In the video Once upon a time... Rosetta's grand finale (also in ESA Space Videos) mentioned in this answer there is a "family portrait" showing Rosetta along with previous comet-visiting spacecraft.

Third from the left looks like ISEE-3, and on the far right it looks like Philae, Rosetta's companion lander (based on this longer video described in this answer) but I don't recognize any of the others. What an amazing variety of shapes though!

Could someone identify the rest of them?

"Bonus points" for naming the space agency and cometary targets of each.

Comet-visiting spacecraft "family portrait" from ESA

  • $\begingroup$ At least some of them are identified in the video. $\endgroup$ Jul 13 '18 at 2:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm not quite sure why the downvotes! I thought this was a reasonable question - we often see artists impressions and images of spacecraft in the media without names or explanations, so it's fun (and useful) to try and work out what they're meant to be! $\endgroup$
    – Jack
    Jul 13 '18 at 10:30

These are all space probes that have visited or investigated comets throughout history, mostly from the Halley Armarda, a group of probes launched to investigate Halley's Comet during its 1986 approach.

Bear in mind the portraits are very stylised so certain identification is kind of difficult.

Across the top from left to right:


Japan's contribution to the Armada. A pair of identical probes with slightly different instrument payloads; both carried a solar wind experiment and Suisei also carried a UV imager.

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Deep Impact

A 2005 NASA probe sent to comet Tempel 1. A small impactor was released on approach to the comet and measurements taken of the resultant ejected material. The portrait doesn't look much like Deep Impact, but it is identified in the video at 3:07

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A joint project by ESA and NASA; originally launch as the International Sun-Earth Explorer-3 (ISEE-3) and placed at the Earth-Sun L1 point to study solar winds. Re-designated in 1982 to the International Cometary Explorer (ICE) and sent to flyby both comet Giacobini–Zinner and Halley's comet.

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ESA's main probe in the Halley Armada which made a close pass of 596 km from the comet's nucleus.

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Vega 1 + 2

A pair of Russian probes that made Halley flybys after gravity assists from Venus where they inserted descent modules into the Venusian atmosphere.

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A 1999 NASA mission to collect and return dust samples from the coma of comet Wild.

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The lander module of ESA's Rosetta mission. Philae puts on the hard hat and backpack at 9:20 in the video.

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And of course, across the bottom:


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  • $\begingroup$ Wow this is really beautiful! Thank you for taking the time to add images and descriptions of all of these spacecraft, this is quite a lot of work. Also, thank you for taking my question seriously! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jul 13 '18 at 10:23

The video doesn't indentify the spacecraft but mentions all are "comet explorers" like Rosetta.

Wiki list of comet exploration missions

according to it (from left to right):

1 - Suisei / Sakigake - two identical Japanese spacecraft to Halley comet

2 - not so good graphics, but excluding other cases we can deduce it's NASA's Deep Impact (with impactor)

3 - NASA's ICE/ISEE, as you guessed

4 - Italian Giotto spacecraft to Halley comet

5 - Vega 1 / Vega 2 - twin Soviet crafts, studied Halley comet and Venus

6 - NASA's Stardust

7 - cound not identify... Not looks like Philae, not like Deep Space-1.. Maybe the artist was lazy, as well as with Deep Impact.

  • $\begingroup$ 7: Hayabusa is kind of cubic, would be a loose match. $\endgroup$
    – Antzi
    Jul 13 '18 at 9:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Antzi - Hayabusa didn't visited a comet. Also Hayabusa had prominent solar sell panels en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hayabusa. So I think it's not Hayabusa. $\endgroup$
    – Heopps
    Jul 13 '18 at 9:18
  • $\begingroup$ Apologies, I must have been compiling my answer when you posted $\endgroup$
    – Jack
    Jul 13 '18 at 9:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Jack - it's ok :) $\endgroup$
    – Heopps
    Jul 13 '18 at 9:42
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer and for taking my question seriously! While #7 might not look like the real Philae, it does look like the "cartoon Philae" in the other ESA video I've linked to in the question. i.stack.imgur.com/4zTw4.jpg note the miner's cap with headlight. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jul 13 '18 at 10:22

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