Robots and Space Probes

Replica of the Sputnik 1 space probe
Credit: NASA

As well as sending people into space, humans have sent robots and space probes all over the Solar System. These have even gone out beyond our Solar System into open space! 

It is much safer and easier to send robots into space than people. They can survive difficult conditions. They can live in the freezing temperatures of outer space. They can burn when flying through a planets' atmosphere and still land unharmed on its surface. They don't need air to breathe, or food and drink. They just need energy to power them. This comes from a battery, and solar panels, getting energy from the Sun's light. Though early space probes ran on nuclear reactions!

The first space probe was called Sputnik 1. It was launched by the Soviet Union in 1957. Since then people have carried on launching robots into space. Robots have landed on planets and moons. They have even landed on an icy comet. Not only that, but they have studied the Sun, planets and objects so small and far away that telescopes on Earth can't even see them! All in order to safely explore our place in space. Why not look at some pages in this section to find out more about some of the most interesting missions.