Important Space Missions


Joint mission of ESA and JAXA to Mercury.


  • JUpiter ICy moons Explorer of ESA’s (European Space Agency)
  • Orbiter mission to explore Jupiter and three of its icy moons: Europa, Callisto and Ganymede.
  • 1st non-American outer Solar System mission 
  • Besides it is the 1st robotic mission to Jupiter.
  • JUICE is scheduled to be launched on 14 April 2023.


  • European Earth Observation Programme
  • Main objective is to monitor of our planet and its ecosystems.
  • Constitutes a constellation of 6 families of satellites known as Sentinels
  • Coordinated and managed by the European Commission.
  • Copernicus allows full, free and open access to all data collected.
  • Scientists, policy makers, entrepreneurs and ordinary citizen can use this data.
  • 6 themes
    • Atmospheric monitoring
    • Marine environment monitoring
    • Land monitoring
    • Climate change
    • Emergency management
    • Security

Copernicus and India

  • India joined Copernicus in 2018.
  • Accordingly European Commission will provide India with free, full and open access to the data from the Copernicus Sentinel family.
  • On the other hand Department of Space will provide the Copernicus programme with a free, full and open access to the data from ISRO’s land, ocean and atmospheric series of civilian satellites (Oceansat-2, Megha-Tropiques, Scatsat-1, SARAL, INSAT-3D,
  • INSAT-3DR) with the exception of commercial high-resolution satellites data.

Kounotori or White Stork

Japan’s spaceship to collect and clear ‘space junk’

Rosetta Mission

ESA’s mission to Comet

Solar Orbiter

  • ESA’s space probe to sun.
  • It’s perihelion (nearest point) will be just 42m km from the sun.

Cosmic Vision

  • ESA’s campaign for space exploration similar to Discovery and New Frontiers Programmes of NASA
  • Will include a number of missions in solar system exploration including
    • CHEOPS 
    • Comet Interceptor
    • LISA
    • ATHENA
    • EnVision


ESA’s measure known exoplanets’ size by photometry


  • Advanced Telescope for High Energy Astrophysics
  • X-ray observatory planned for 2031


  • Short for Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment 
  • Space probe to test impact models of whether a spacecraft could successfully deflect an asteroid on a collision course with Earth.

Comet Interceptor

  • Robotic spacecraft mission of ESA planned for a 2028 launch.
  • It will be parked at the Sun-Earth L2 point (Lagrange Point)
  • It is to intercept a long-period comet that will flyby in 2-3 years

Venus Express by ESA

Orbiter mission of European Space Agency launched in 2005


Japanese Venus Mission


Planned Venus orbiter mission of ESA


  • Chinese space station
  • Also called Heavenly Palace or Celestial Palace 1.
  • Launched in 2011, retired in 2018


  • Launched in 2016
  • Successor to Tiangong-1.
  • Currently in orbit
  • Aim is to test capabilities for long-term human presence in space

Tianzhou 1

1st Chinese cargo spacecraft to service the Tiangong 2


  • Permanent space module of China
  • Also called “Harmony of the Heavens”

FAST array/ Tianyan

  • Chinese Radio Telescope
  • Short for the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope
  • Also called “Sky Eye” or “The Eye of Heaven”


  • Chinese space telescope
  • Also called “Heavenly Cruiser”
  • It has a field 300 times wider than that of the Hubble Space Telescope
  • Will capture deep space objects like dark matter, dark energy and exoplanets.

Hayabusa Mission
Hayabusa 2

  • Japanese space exploration mission to study asteroids.
  • Hayabusa 1 (2003): to study the features of asteroid ‘Itokawa’.

Hayabusa 2 mission (Asteroid Ryugu)

  • Launched in 2014 asteroid ‘Ryugu’
  • Brought back samples from asteroid to earth in 2020.
  • No scientists have found ingredients of life including Uracil (RNA molecule) and Vitamin B3.


  • Short for Human-Enhanced Robotic Architecture and Capability for Lunar Exploration and Science.
  • Joint lunar mission of ESA, JAXA and Canada

BIRDS Project

Japan’s project to support non-spacefaring countries to build their first satellite.

  • Called as The Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite project (BIRDS).
  • Birds1: Five countries participated in the first Bird program: Ghana, Mongolia, Nigeria, and Bangladesh.
  • Birds-2: Bhutan, the Philippines, and Malaysia


  • Joint effort of Japan and ESA.
  • Proposed infrared space telescope
  • Short for Space Infrared Telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics 


Japanese robotic mission to the Moon including an orbiter, a lander and a rover

The Giant Meterwave Radio Telescope

  • Located near Pune
  • Deep space objects such as galaxy, neutron star, pulsar, etc.
  • An array of 30 fully steerable parabolic radio telescopes of 45 metre diameter.

Gemini Telescope in Hawaii

  • Radio telescope of USA
  • It was used to measure the distance to the galaxy.
  • The distance of radio galaxies is measured in redshift.
  • The farther away galaxies are, the faster they move away from us and therefore appear to be redder due to Doppler shift.

Event Horizon Telescope

  • Imaged the 1st ever picture of Black Hole.
  • Network of 8 radio telescopes located in Hawaii,
  • Arizona, Chile, Mexico and Spain, and at the South Pole.
  • It is synchronized in such a way in effect they form a radio telescope of the size of the earth itself.

Thirty Meter Telescope

  • Multi-wavelength Large telescope in near-ultraviolet to mid-infrared observations
  • Proposed sites: Mauna Kea in Hawaii, Hanle in India
  • Funding from Canada, China, Japan and India.
image 109

Square Kilometre Array

  • World’s biggest radio astronomy facility
  • Array of radio dishes and antennas spanning 2 continents with a combined effective area of one square kilometre.

Observatory (SKAO)

  • Construction of these arrays of antennas, one in Australia and other in South Africa, has started. (December 2022)
  • Future antennas and dishes are planned for construction in New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, UK, Italy, Sweden.
  • India was initially a partner in the SKA project and had expressed interest in hosting a part of the SKA. However, in 2020, India withdrew from the SKAO project due to budgetary constraints.


  • Will give us the deepest look at the universe as it enable us to look at the cosmic dawn, beginning of the Universe when the first stars and galaxies formed. (400 million years from big bang)
  • This it will do by mapping the hydrogen formation during this phase.
  • In addition, it will study neutron stars, organic molecules around newly forming planets, and the structure of the Universe.
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