Space/planetary Probes (Explorer, Luna, Venera, Mariner)
The International Cometary Explorer (ICE) spacecraft was launched in 1978 into heliocentric orbit to measure study the interaction between the Earth's magnetic field and the solar wind. It was the first probe to visit a comet, passing through the plasma trail of comet Giaobini-Siner in 1985. Routine contact was suspended in 1997 with status checks in 1999 and 2008. In 2014 the ISEE-3 Reboot Project regained communication but contact was lost later that year.
The Luna program was a series of spacecraft missions sent to the Moon by the Soviet Union between 1959 and 1976. Twenty-four spacecraft were given the Luna designation, with 15 successful missions as an orbiter or lander. Many more were launched but failed to reach orbit. There were many types of spacecraft: impactors, flybys, soft landers, orbiters, rovers, and sample returns. The program ended due to a lack of funding.
The Venera program was a series of space probes developed by the Soviet Union between 1961 and 1984 to research Venus. Ten probes landed on the surface of the planet while 13 entered the atmosphere. The probes could only survive a short time on the surface but they acheived many accomplishments. Venera 4 was the first device to enter the atmosphere of another planet in 1967, Venera 7 was the first to make a soft landing on another planet in 1970, and Venera 9 was the first to return images from another planet's surface in 1975.
The Mariner program was a 10-mission NASA program that launched robotic interplanetary probes from 1962 to 1973 to investigate Mars, Venus, and Mercury. They include the first planetary flyby, the first planetary orbiter, and the first gravity assist maneuver. Seven of the ten launches were successful, and plans for future Mariner probes were adapted into the Voyager, Viking, and Magellan programs.