NASA has launched plenty of robotic exploration missions in the past five decades. Robotic missions have brought fantastic results for science. The three main candidates for life in the solar system, Mars, Europa, and Titan were visited by robots only, and we should be thankful they were able to go in those places where humans would not make it even for a second, let alone the long trip to reach those worlds. Robotic missions sent back a wealth of data leading to conclusions that life could exist elsewhere in the solar system. At this point, if life is out there, it will be a robot that will find it. On top of their excellent results, robots are cheaper and human lives are not at stake. Here are top 7 robotic missions deployed by NASA.
7 | Dawn
The Dawn mission has achieved something that no previous mission has achieved before: to orbit two asteroids. Dawn has been deployed in orbit around Vesta, and later on will visit Ceres, with a mission to study these vagabond rocks. Vesta and Ceres are two asteroids located between Mars and Jupiter, and together with many other asteroids they form the so-called Asteroid Belt.
6 | Kepler Telescope
Kepler is a space-based observatory with a mission to find Earth-like planets orbiting other stars. Kepler’s mission is to scan the area of the Milky Way galaxy between Cygnus and Lyra in search for Earthlike life supporting planets. So far 2326 possible planet candidates circling over 1000 stars have been detected by Kepler.
5 | Little SDO
This is the latest mission to study the Sun, and in the past year it has provided us with the most amazing pictures of our star, photographing surprising solar flares and solar storms.
4 | Mars Rovers Spirit and Opportunity
In 2003 NASA deployed two land rovers to explore the surface of Mars. Spirit andOpportunityexplored different sites in search for clues of any past water activity, and brought a significant contribution in the search for life. Both Spirit andOpportunityrevealed that the presence of water was a fact on the Red Planet.
3 | Cassini-Huygens
Cassini-Huygens arrived at Saturn in 2004 to conduct a survey of its planetary system, as well as to release a probe on one of its moons, Titan. One of the most significant results of this mission is the discovery of a possible life habitat on Titan, a moon of Saturn that looks like an early Earth.
2 | Galileo
The Galileo mission to Jupiter has disclosed that its moons hold the gold medal as far as life is concerned, mainly because liquid water seems to be abundant on these tiny worlds. Galileo photographed the moons Europa, Enceladus and Io, and revealed that life is quite possible here.
1 | Hubble Space Telescope
Our understanding of the universe has forever changed with the Hubble Space Telescope. This telescope has been the greatest tool of NASA, capable of bringing space into the homes of everyday people. Its images are some of the most defining images of space ever taken. The telescope has the unique ability to show the immensity of our universe in a way that was previously impossible.