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Missions to Pluto: Past, Present and Future

The following table lists all missions to Astroids, including those that failed, starting with the most recent. The table is colour coded to reflect the lead country or space agency, and missions are listed by launch date. The RPIF, here at UNB holds data and images from many of the NASA led missions.

Any questions or comments please Contact PASSC.

Red - USSR or Russian led missions


Blue - NASA led missions


Purple - Japanese Space Agency led missions


Green - European Space Agency led missions


Yellow - China National Space Administration led missions


Orange - Indian Space Research Organization


Launch Date Mission Success Type Instruments Goal Database
2006/01 New Horizons In progress (so far successful) Flyby

-Ralph (visible and infrared imager/spectrometer; provides color, composition and thermal maps)

-Alice (ultraviolet imaging spectrometer; analyzes composition and structure of Pluto’s atmosphere and looks for the atmospheres around Charon and Kuiper Belt Objects

-REX (Radio Science EXperiment) measures atmospheric composition and temperature

-LORRI (Long range Reconnaissance Imager; telescopic camera)

-SWAP (Solar Wind Around Pluto; solar wind and plasma spectrometer)

-PEPSSI (Pluto Energetic Particle Spectrometer Science Investigation; measuring the composition and density of plasma escaping from Pluto’s atmosphere)

-SDC (Student Dust Counter; measures the space dust peppering New Horizons during its voyage across the solar system)

- Make the first close-up study of Pluto and its moon and other icy worlds in the distant Kuiper Belt. Flyby one or more Kuiper Belt Objects

Main Objective:

-Characterize the global geology and morphology and map the surface composition of Pluto and Charon and characterize the neutral atmosphere of Pluto and its escape rate.

Other objectives:

-Study the time variability of Pluto's surface and atmosphere

-Image Pluto and Charon in stereo

-Map the terminators and composition of selected areas of Pluto and Charon at high-resolution

-Characterizing Pluto's upper atmosphere, ionosphere, energetic particle environment, and solar wind interaction

-Searching for an atmosphere around Charon and characterizing its energetic particle environment

-Refine bulk parameters, orbits, and bolometric Bond albedos of Pluto and Charon-Searching for additional satellites and rings

-Characterizing one or more Kuiper Belt Objects.




PASSC Director: John Spray
Data Manager: Data Manager

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University of New Brunswick
Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
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