Lunar and Planetary Institute

Beyond Earth - Resources - Websites
EXPLORE! Beyond Earth


NASA's Office of Space Science mission page provides links to the main pages of past, pending, and present missions. Each main page presents the mission goals, timeline of events, and an overview of mission engineering.

The Exploration Systems Mission Directorate develops capabilities and technology to make human and robotic exploration of our solar system possible — and — safe. Find out the latest in exploration engineering!

Travel to the International Space Station, the Moon, and Mars with astronaut Pam Melroy on a virtual, interactive tour of NASA's Constellation Program. Visit this narrated series of online videos at "Constellation: Earth Moon Mars." 

NASA's Vision for Space Exploration, announced on January 14, 2004, offers a "building block" strategy of human and robotic missions, beginning with returning the space shuttle to flight and completing the International Space Station.

Exploration 101 is a booklet filled with images and text about NASA's plans for the future of space exploration, including discussions about new crew and cargo launch vehicles, lunar lander and various rovers. This downloadable document is geared for adults.

Information about the Red Planet from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for ages 10–13. The site shares news, science, and links to past, present, and future missions.

Lunar information from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for children ages 10–13. The site shares news, science, and links to past, present, and future missions.

Johnson Space Center's searchable collection of more than 9000 NASA press release photos spanning the American manned space program, from the Mercury program to the STS-79 Shuttle mission.

NASA's fact sheets about the space shuttle and the International Space Stations cover topics about of human exploration, from mission highlights to construction and components, to astronaut selection and training.

The Rockets Educator Guide (NASA eductational product number EG-2008-05-060-KSC) brings the excitement of rockets to the classroom! These lessons and activities explore the scientific, technological, engineering, and mathematical foundations of rocketry. The guide also contains background information about the history of rockets and basic rocket science.

Past Missions

This historical archive of NASA's space history, rocket history, early astronauts, and the manned missions will be of great interest to individuals interested in the chronology of space aeronautics.

The Soviet Venera Spacecraft missions encompassed a variety of Venus orbiters, landers, and probes between 1961–1983.

The Soviet Lunar program had 20 missions to the Moon, including the first probe to impact the Moon, the first flyby and image of the far side of the moon, the first soft landing, and the first circumlunar probe to return to Earth.

Surveyor probes were the first U.S. spacecrafts to land safely on the Moon (1966–1968). The Surveyor probes were tasked with obtaining close-up images of the lunar surface so that it could be determined if the terrain was safe for manned landings.

The Gemini Mission pages from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Gemini's mission included getting a man into space for up to two weeks, docking with orbiting vehicles, and perfecting the ways in which capsules re-entered Earth's atmosphere.

Web resources for the Apollo program.

Apollo 10: The Story is an interactive exploration of the Apollo 10 mission — precursor to the Moon landing of Apollo 11. Children ages 9 and older can learn about the mission and see diagrams of the capsule. Lesson plans, tied to the British school system, also are available.

On February 17, 1996, the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous was the first Discovery Program spacecraft to be launched. It is the first spacecraft to orbit and land on an asteroid — Eros.

A small lander and rover were successfully delivered to the surface of Mars in 1997. JPL's Mars Pathfinder site includes mission information and images.

The Stardust Mission sampled Comet Wild 2 in January 2004 and is due to return sample material in January of 2006.

Spirit and Opportunity roved across Mars in the Mars Rover Exploration Mission.

Space Shuttle and International Space Station

Find the latest news about the Space Shuttle program.

How the space shuttle works is explored in a series of step-by-step pages that share what is necessary to get the shuttle into space, orbit, work, and return from space. Nice diagrams and a good starting point for discussion with older children and young adults.

Explore the International Space Station (ISS) in 3-D!  Zoom in to see details of the space station's modules and solar arrays or zoom out for a more global view of the complex through an interactive, 3-D photographic collection of the ISS.

Interactive site for tracking the International Space Station.

See the International Space Station fly overhead by logging on to this NASA site.

Older children and adults can learn the latest International Space Station news on this NASA Web site.

How the International Space Station works is explored in a site designed for older children and young adults. Visitors are led through an introduction to the station, its components, and the research being conducted.

3D Space Station Adventure provides interactive activities for children ages 4–12. Visitors are challenged to design space vehicles and stations, as well as equip a space station. Coloring books and games also can be found at this site.

Current and Future Unmanned Missions

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) launched on June 18, 2009. LRO will conduct investigations that will prepare for future human exploration of the Moon by finding safe landing sites, locating potential resources, and characterizing the radiation environment.

NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) launched together with LRO on June 18, 2009 will help to confirm the presence or absence of water ice — a valuable resource for human exploration — in a permanently shadowed crater at one of the Moon's poles. LCROSS and its attached Centaur upper stage rocket will collide separately with the Moon's south pole at approximately 7:30 EDT on Friday, October 9, 2009.

Scientists will learn about this small planet nearest to our Sun — Mercury — through the MESSENGER Mission

The Cassini Mission successfully went into orbit around Saturn in June 2004 — after a 7 year voyage. Its probe, the Huygens probe, explored the surface of Titan, a moon of Saturn.

The goal of the Dawn Mission is to characterize the conditions and processes of the solar system's earliest epoch by investigating in detail two of the largest protoplanets remaining intact since their formations — Ceres and Vesta.

The Deep Impact Mission will propel a projectile into the surface of a comet to create a huge crater. Not only will this allow scientists to understand the cratering process, but they will be able to study a fresh comet surface and gain insights into how our Solar System formed.

Space Colonies

Artist Pat Rawlings creates images of colonies on Mars and the Moon, as well as a variety of space exploration and research subjects. A great site for sparking imagination!

Collection of artists' images of what a colony on Mars might look like. Includes pictures and animations of transportation vehicles, bases, and research.

Find images and animations of lunar and Mars vehicles and bases, as well as other technology at the Mars Image Gallery.

The Space Site explores why humans should settle in space and some of the challenges to doing so. Colonization art, news, and a guide to space exploration's history and future are available.

SkyScopes, a business that offers educational space toys, provides a potpourri of links, news, and overviews about furthering colonization of space.

Imagine Mars invites children, educators, and the community to imagine what it would be like to live on Mars. Children learn about the Red Planet, identify cultural elements for a colony, access interviews with scientists, and share their projects through the site.

LunaCorp offers the public to access space events and exploration through telecommunications. They also develop instruments for exploring the Moon and planets.


Last updated
October 26, 2009


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