Timeline of early Earth science satellites

The Timeline of Earth science satellites shows, in chronological order, those successful satellites with a program of Earth science. Sputnik 1, while the first satellite ever launched, did not conduct Earth science. Explorer 1 was the first satellite to make an Earth science discovery when it found the Van Allen belts.

1950s

Satellite Country Date Organisation Notes
Sputnik 2Soviet Union3 November 1957Korolev Design BureauResearch charged particles near Earth ?????
Explorer 1United States1 February 1958U.S. Army Ballistic Missile AgencyDecayed 31 May 1970. Discovered Van Allen belts.
Explorer 2United States5 March 1958U.S. Army Ballistic Missile AgencyFailed to orbit.
Vanguard IUnited States17 March 1958U.S. Naval Research LaboratoryOldest artificial satellite in orbit, along with its upper stage.
Explorer 3United States26 March 1958U.S. Army Ballistic Missile AgencyDecayed 28 June 1958.
Vanguard TV-5United States29 April 1958U.S. Naval Research LaboratoryFailed to orbit.
Sputnik 3Soviet Union15 May 1958Korolev Design BureauDecayed 6 April 1960.
Vanguard SLV-1United States28 May 1958U.S. Naval Research LaboratoryFailed to orbit.
Vanguard SLV-2United States26 June 1958U.S. Naval Research LaboratoryFailed to orbit.
Explorer 4United States26 July 1958U.S. DARPAMeasured electrons & protons in radiation belts. Also measured data on Operation Argus nuclear explosions.
Explorer 5United States24 August 1958U.S. DARPAFailed to orbit.
Vanguard SLV-3United States26 September 1958U.S. Naval Research LaboratoryFailed to orbit.
Beacon 1United States23 October 1958NASA/U.S. ArmyFailed to orbit.
Vanguard IIUnited States17 February 1959NASA/U.S. Naval Research LaboratoryStill in orbit.
Vanguard SLV-5United States14 April 1959NASAFailed to orbit.
Vanguard SLV-6United States22 June 1959NASAFailed to orbit.
Explorer S-1United States16 July 1959NASAFailed to orbit.
Explorer 6United States7 August 1959Jet Propulsion LaboratoryDecayed 1 July 1961.
Beacon 2United States15 August 1959NASA/U.S. NavyFailed to orbit.
Vanguard IIIUnited States18 September 1959U.S. Naval Research LaboratoryStill in orbit.
Explorer 7United States13 October 1959NASAStill in orbit.

1960s

Satellite Country Date Organisation Notes
Explorer 8United States3 November 1960Jet Propulsion LaboratoryIonospheric studies; decayed from orbit on 28 March 2012.
Explorer 9United States16 February 1961Langley Research Center (NASA)Thermosphere and exosphere studies; decayed from orbit on 9 April 1964.
Explorer S-56aUnited States25 February 1961
Explorer 10United States25 March 1961NASAMagnetic field and plasma studies; decayed from orbit on June 1, 1968.
Explorer 11United States27 April 1961NASAGamma ray detection
Explorer 12United States16 August 1961NASASolar wind, cosmic ray and magnetic field studies
Explorer 13United States25 August 1961
Kosmos 3Soviet Union24 April 1962Decayed from orbit on 17 October 1962.
Ariel 1United Kingdom26 April 1962NASA-SERCIonospheric studies; decayed from orbit on 24 May 1976.
Kosmos 5Soviet Union28 May 1962
Kosmos 8Soviet Union18 August 1968Micrometeoroid detection; discovered meteoroid flux
Alouette 1Canada29 September 1962DRDCIonospheric studies
TAVEUnited States29 September 1962
Explorer 14United States2 October 1962NASAParticle and field detection
Explorer 15United States27 October 1962NASA
Explorer 900United States16 December 1962

References

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