Exploration History

Behold: the entire history of Solar System exploration in one graphic. It requires a HTML5-capable browser, so all fairly new versions of Chrome, Firefox, IE, Opera and what-have-you should work. If your browser only shows a static image, it is too old. The Button on the upper left enables full screen mode (this doesn't work in Internet Explorer previous to IE11).

The data are available on my space exploration history github repository.


These sites (and books) helped me greatly to gather all the data represented here:
National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC)
NASA History Astronautics and Aeronautics Chronology Series
Solar System Exploration Mission Profiles
JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library
Encyclopedia Astronautica, Mark Wade
Jonathan's Space Report, Johnathan McDowell
Spaceflight Realtime Simulations and Information, Daniel Muller
Earth Observation Portal, ESA
Gunter's Space Page, Gunter Krebs
Johnston's Archive, Robert Johnston
The Planetary Society, Emily Lakdawalla et.al.
Venera: The Soviet Exploration of Venus, Don P. Mitchell
Russian Space Web, Anatoly Zak
Spaceflight 101, Patrick Blau
Zarya Soviet, Russian and International Space Flight, Robert Christy
Visual Satellite Observing FAQ
Weebau Space Encyclopedia, Pierre Bauduin
and of course all the mission websites linked in the app above.
The Planetary Society, planet images
Planetary Maps, Steve Albers
NASA Visible Earth
Moon shaded relief
Mars MOLA map
Dr. Paul Schenk (Neptune Rings)
Historic Spacecraft, Richard Kruse (Rocket images)
Solar System Data
Planetary Fact Sheets (NSSDC)
Solar System Dynamics (JPL)
The Astronomical Almanac Online (USN)
Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature (USGS)
Minor Planet Center (IAU)
Planetary Data System (PDS) - Rings node - Atmospheres node
Deep Space Chronicle, Asif Siddiqi, NASA History Monograph SP 2002-4524
Soviet Robots in the Solar System Wesley T. Huntress, Jr. & Mikhail Ya. Marov, Springer 2011
Spacecraft positions algorithm with great help from this page by Project Pluto


  1. Great documentation of the past and present space exploration missions!
    The landing sites maps are especially informative feature :)

    1. Thank you for the comment, Yoav, glad you like it.

      It is still a work in progress, so be sure to check back for updates!

  2. Is it just me, or is this missing the DAWN mission?

  3. Wow, so much information, and very nicely organized. Great job. I don't see Dawn, though.

  4. DAWN to Vesa, Ceres? - Mike Lockmoore

  5. You're mission so many from the Earth! CRRES, DE, Sampex, IMAGE, GOES, Van Allen Probes, Themis, cluster, LANL, Ampte, GPS, Iridium, all used for science and oh so many more! Don't forget the cubesats either!

  6. Thanks for this. Nice work!

  7. Thank you for your nice comments, all!
    You were right, of course. Dawn was missing due to category error. Should be fixed now, if you refresh the page.

    @Alexa: Yes, indeed, I limited myself to Solar System exploration missions beyond Earth orbit, because, as you say, there are so many of them. Earth orbit would completely overwhelm everything else. Non the less an interesting topic in itself, I might well do a graphic about these one day.
    After I tackle the Space Telescopes.

  8. Surely that is a cool infograph I have seen. Thanks for the exploration info.

  9. Agh the infographic URL is broken! I can't see anything! |: (

  10. URL isn't broken, site is overloaded.

  11. IFLS crashes another site :)

  12. Typos: mission type "Ba*l*loon probe"; acronym "IHW: International Hall*e*y Watch"; acronym "APL: Johns Hopkins A*p*plied Physics Laboratory".

    Undefined acronym: "Science Orbit".

  13. Incredible effort ;)

    Minor issue: Could not scroll down in full screen mode (Firefox 14)

  14. Yes, that seems to have been an issue in earlier Firefoxes. Easy fix: get a newer one ;)

  15. Pretty impressive work - though my Firefox crashed when leaving the interactive graph...

  16. @David, thanks for the heads-up, could you maybe give some details for the crash, what operating system, version, what did you do when it happened (fullscreen?), so I can try to reproduce it?

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  18. Ferry good compilation, very clear.