The remains of human space exploration are strewn across the solar system, from dozens of dead spacecraft abandoned on the moon to the comet lander Philae, declared out of contact last week.
Silent spacecraft litter our solar system. Since 1959 many countries have sent spacecraft out to investigate planets, moons, comets and asteroids
Where are those vehicles now?
This is Scientific American’s 60-Second Science. I’m Jennifer Hackett. Got a minute?
Landers and rovers can’t work forever. Battery-powered probes like Huygens on Titan will run out of power, while solar-powered craft like Philae will eventually be lost in shadow.
Closer to home, 15 probes rest on the Venusian surface. Spacecraft from NASA, Russia and the European Space Agency are gathering dust on Mars. Our moon has the most defunct vehicles by far—there are 31 dead spacecraft from six different space agencies.
Some orbiters meet a dramatic end. MESSENGER, which studied Mercury, was intentionally crashed as it fell from orbit, so researchers can get one last burst of data.
Thanks for the minute! For Scientific American I’m Jennifer Hackett.
[The above text is a transcript of this video.]
Executive Producer Eliene Augenbraun
Producer Lydia Chain
Writer and Narrator Jennifer Hackett
Graphic Artist Amanda Montanez
Special Thanks: NASA/Caltech/JPL/USGS; Goddard Space Flight Center; Space Telescope Science Institute