Space Missions - Quiz

Space Missions - Quiz
Space missions have taken us to the Sun and the Moon, asteroids and comets, planets, dwarf planets and moons, and looked beyond the Solar System. There have been so many missions it's hard to keep them straight. Can you match these descriptions to the missions?

Quiz: Space missions
  1. 2009 NASA probe that sent an impactor into the Moon: (A) Lunar Prospector; (B) Chandrayaan 1; (C) LCROSS

  2. Used radar to map Venus from orbit: (A) Magellan; (B) Venera 8; (C) Venus Express

  3. Discovered water ice on Mercury: (A) MAVEN; (B) Mariner 10; (C) Messenger

  4. One of these NASA spacecraft has not visited a dwarf planet: (A) New Horizons; (B) NEAR Shoemaker; (C) Dawn

  5. This NASA mission was orbiting Jupiter when the planet was impacted by fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9: (A) Galileo (B) Juno; (C) Pioneer 10

  6. Mars mission of ISRO, the Indian space agency: (A) Mars Reconnaissance Oribter; (B) Mars Orbiter Mission; (C) Mars Global Surveyor

  7. Caught up with a comet in deep space and followed it around the Sun: (A) Giotto; (B) Rosetta; (C) Stardust

  8. Began studying Saturn and its moons in 2004: (A) Pioneer 11; (B) Huygens; (C) Cassini

  9. The only spacecraft to visit Neptune and Uranus: (A) Voyager 2; (B) Voyager 1; (C) Pioneer 10

  10. Looked for exoplanets: (A) Ulysses (B) Planck (C) Kepler
Answers and notes

1. 2009 NASA probe that sent an impactor into the Moon: (C) LCROSS.
All three lunar missions contributed to finding water on the “bone dry” Moon. NASA's Lunar Prospector went into low orbit in 1998 to map the Moon's surface composition. Its data suggested there was water ice at the poles. In 2009 the Indian mission Chandrayaan 1 found water ice on the Moon. This was confirmed when the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) sent an impactor into a permanently shadowed crater. Water was detected in the resulting plume.

2. Used radar to map Venus from orbit: (A) Magellan.
All three are missions that taught us about Venus. The Soviet probe Venera 8 made the first successful landing on Venus. It sent data from the surface for fifty minutes before succumbing to the pressure and searing temperature. ESA's Venus Express orbited the planet for nearly eight years, returning data on the planet's atmosphere. But it was NASA's Magellan that was also known as the Venus Radar Mapper.

3. Discovered water ice on Mercury: (C) Messenger
Only two of these NASA spacecraft visited Mercury – MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) has been collecting evidence to explain how Mars lost its atmosphere. Despite Mercury's closeness to the Sun, some polar regions are in permanent shadow, and in 2012 Messenger discovered water ice on Mercury in these regions. Mariner 10, launched in 1973, was the first spacecraft to visit Mercury.

4. One of these NASA spacecraft has not visited a dwarf planet: (B) NEAR Shoemaker.
NEAR (Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous) orbited the asteroid Eros, landing on it in 2001 to end the mission. But New Horizons has visited Pluto, and in April 2019 Dawn was still orbiting Ceres.

5. This NASA mission was orbiting Jupiter when the planet was impacted by fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9: (A) Galileo
These three missions span over forty years of exploring Jupiter. Launched in 1972, Pioneer 10 was indeed a pioneer. It was the first spacecraft to cross the asteroid belt and to send back pictures from a Jupiter fly-by. Juno went into orbit around Jupiter in July 2016 and its mission ends in July 2021. Galileo spent eight years orbiting Jupiter, and photographed the broken comet hitting Jupiter in 1994.

6. Mars mission of the Indian space agency ISRO: (B) Mars Orbiter Mission
NASA's Mars Global Surveyor mapped Mars from 2001-2006, a job the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been doing since 2006. All these names sound quite similar, but the Indian mission is also known as Mangalyaan, made up of the Sanskrit words for Mars and craft.

7. Caught up with a comet in deep space and followed it around the Sun: (B) Rosetta
ESA's Rosetta went around the Sun with comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko, ending the mission in September 2016 with a soft landing on the comet. In 1986 ESA's Giotto spacecraft had provided the first view of a comet nucleus when it flew close to Halley's Comet. NASA's Stardust, launched in 1999 to comet Wild 2, returned the first dust samples from a comet's thin atmosphere.

8. Began studying Saturn and its moons in 2004: (C) Cassini
In 1979 Pioneer 11 became the first spacecraft to fly by Saturn. Twenty years later, Cassini-Huygens was launched, a joint NASA/ESA mission. The European Huygens lander went to the moon Titan, and NASA's Cassini spacecraft explored the Saturnian system. Cassini's mission ends in September 2017.

9. The only spacecraft to visit Neptune and Uranus: (A) Voyager 2
The two Voyagers and Pioneers 10 and 11 have traveled beyond Neptune's orbit, but only Voyager 2 visited the two ice giants.

10. It looked for exoplanets: (C) Kepler
Ulysses was a European-US mission to study the Sun. It was launched from the space shuttle in 1990. ESA's Planck (2009-2013) had a bigger interest – the cosmos! To learn more about the evolution of the Universe, it did high resolution mapping of the radiation left over from the Big Bang. Kepler is the planet hunter. Before its mission ended in 2018, Kepler found over 2600 confirmed exoplanets and four thousand possibles for further investigation.

How did you do?
Some of the missions have been big news in recent years, but I hope you've learned a few interesting facts about the others. Click on “Join the discussion” to comment, see what other people say, or find out what's new.



You Should Also Read:
Water on the Moon
Rosetta the Comet Chaser
Voyager 2 – the Grand Tour

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