Mars Climate Orbiter successfully blasted off a Kennedy Space Center launch pad for a 9-month journey to the Red Planet on Friday, December 11, 1998. The spacecraft will arrive in martian orbit in September 1999, where it will serve as a weather satellite for a full martian year (two full Earth years). The next Mars lander is scheduled for January 3, 1999 liftoff. Mars Polar will touch down on Mars in December 1999, carrying two softball-size penetrators, the Deep Space 2 mission, that will crash land on Mars some 60 miles north of the landing site. All is going well with NASA's Saturn-bound Cassini mission and the Deep Space 1 mission. Cassini will reach Saturn in June 2004 and Deep Space 1 will rendezvous with asteroid 1992 KD in July 1999.

The Galileo spacecraft at Jupiter went into a safe mode just six hours before its scheduled flyby of Europa on November 21-22, meaning it failed to collect any images or data; probably because of the intense radiation surrounding Jupiter. The NEAR spacecraft (Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous) will go into orbit around the asteroid Eros in January. Mars Global Surveyor and Lunar Prospector continue to function beautifully. Future missions include gathering samples of the martian moons Phobos and Deimos, firing a 1, 100 lb. copper projectile into comet P/Tempel 1, studying Jupiter's interior, globally imaging and studying Mercury, and measuring the composition and circulation of Venus's middle atmosphere.

This article told me much about the past, present, and future NASA missions. We are certainly learning more about the other planets in our solar systems, especially Mars, and I believe that we are doing the right thing in proposing more future missions that will help us learn more about our solar system and its planets.