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A space probe is a robotic spacecraft that doesn't orbit around the Earth, but instead, explores further into outer space. A space probe may approach the Moon; travel through interplanetary space; flyby, orbit, or land on other planetary bodies; or enter interstellar space.
The space agencies of the USSR (now Russia and Ukraine), the United States, the European Union, Japan, China, India, and Israel have collectively launched probes to several planets and moons of the Solar System, as well as to a number of asteroids and comets. Approximately 15 missions are currently operational.
Once a probe has left the vicinity of Earth, its trajectory will likely take it along an orbit around the Sun similar to the Earth's orbit. To reach another planet, the simplest practical method is a Hohmann transfer orbit. More complex techniques, such as gravitational slingshots, can be more fuel-efficient, though they may require the probe to spend more time in transit. Some high Delta-V missions (such as those with high inclination changes) can only be performed, within the limits of modern propulsion, using gravitational slingshots. A technique using very little propulsion, but requiring a considerable amount of time, is to follow a trajectory on the Interplanetary Transport Network.
The Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars to explore the Martian surface and geology, and searched for clues to past water activity on Mars. They were each launched in 2003 and landed in 2004. Communication with Spirit stopped on sol 2210 (March 22, 2010). JPL continued to attempt to regain contact until May 24, 2011, when NASA announced that efforts to communicate with the unresponsive rover had ended. Opportunity arrived at Endeavour crater on 9 August 2011, at a landmark called Spirit Point named after its rover twin, after traversing 13 miles (21 km) from Victoria crater, over a three-year period. After a planet wide dust storm in June 2018, the final communication was received on June 10, 2018, and Opportunity was declared dead on February 13, 2019. The rover lasted for almost fifteen years on Mars — although the rover was intended to last only three months.
Voyager 1 is a 7200-kilogram (with fuel) spaceprobe launched September 5, 1977. It visited Jupiter and Saturn and was the first spaceprobe to provide detailed images of the moons of these planets.
Voyager 1 is the farthest human-made object from Earth, traveling away from both the Earth and the Sun at a relatively faster speed than any other probe. As of September 12, 2013, Voyager 1 is about 12,3 billion miles (20 billion kilometers) from the Sun.
On August 25, 2012, Voyager 1 became the first human made object to enter interstellar space. Voyager 1 has not had a functioning plasma sensor since 1980, but a solar flare in 2012 allowed scientists from NASA to measure vibrations of the plasma surrounding the craft. The vibrations allowed scientists to measure the plasma to be much denser than measurements taken in the far layers of our heliosphere, thus concluding the craft had broken beyond the heliopause.