Heidelberg University

Solar System Exploration Missions and their Scientific Outcome

Tra-Mi Ho, DLR - Institute of Space Systems, Bremen

Angelo Rossi, Jacobs University Bremen


The long-lived desire of humanity to understand its place in the Cosmos might be the major motivation of the last approx. 60 years of continuous exploration of and beyond our Solar System. All missions from Voyager 1 to Rosetta pursued to give an answer on the questions of where we come from and where we go. Despite all the challenges on complexity, safety and/or cost interplanetary missions must meet, their implementation is doubtless important since in-depth knowledge of our Solar System cannot be gained by observations from Earth's ground or from orbit around the Earth, alone. An orbiting spacecraft enable long-term global characterization of their targeted object via remote sensing instruments such as wide and narrow angle cameras in different colors, spectrometers covering various spectral ranges and/or ranging instruments. They would provide among others the geographical, geological, topographical and compositional information on a resolution of up to several meters of the target. Whereas, a landing probe would provide in-situ data on a higher resolution (in the micrometer scale) and thus would provide important context understanding.

The lecture will give an overview on the technical challenges an interplanetary mission must meet until its realization and up to its operation in space. In addition, a summary of major scientific outcome of several cornerstone missions in the last years will be presented.

Please bring your own laptop.