For the purposes of this question, we will consider a "lander" any probe which was sent to the surface of an extraterrestrial body or entered the atmosphere to a point which exceeds an air pressure of 5 x 10-7 kPa.

This question simply seeks the identity of the extraterrestrial bodies which have hosted such "landers", but the number and identity of the "landers" for each body would make for a better answer.

Bonus points for anyone who includes an example picture taken by a "lander" for each body.

Extra bonus points for anyone who includes an example picture taken by each "lander" for each body.

Surface pictures are preferred.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You want a surface picture of each lander on the surface - taken by itself? That might be impossible in some cases (I'm thinking of the Venera landers for example which could only return pretty simple photos.) $\endgroup$ – Andy Jul 16 '15 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Andy No, not a picture of the lander, a picture that was taken by the lander. I'm interested in pictures of the extraterrestrial bodies not the landers. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Jul 16 '15 at 15:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Andy I tried to clarify the question. How does it look now? $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Jul 16 '15 at 15:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Andy Right, I tried to make the phrasing of the answer inclusive of those types of probes. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Jul 16 '15 at 16:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @SteveJessop The atmospheric pressure part of the question was meant to include more not exclude. I meant to include those probes that entered atmospheres even though they didn't touch the surface (like Galileo). $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Jul 19 '15 at 1:47

To be honest, I don't know how to measure atmospheric pressure, so I cannot discriminate on that basis. Initially my answer only included unmanned missions, but based on suggestions I've decided to add the Apollo missions as well.


The first landers performed intentionally hard landings and did not get pictures from the surface. I want to include them because they were the first man-made objects to land on The Moon:

  • Luna 2 (Soviet Union - impacted 13 September 1959)
  • Ranger 4 (USA - impacted 26 April 1962)
  • Ranger 6 (USA - impacted 2 February 1964)
  • Ranger 7 (USA - impacted 31 July 1964)
  • Ranger 8 (USA - impacted 20 February 1965)
  • Ranger 9 (USA - impacted 24 March 1965)

The first attempts at soft landings failed, but they still did land (crashed) on the surface:

  • Luna 5 (Soviet Union - impacted 12 May 1965)
  • Luna 7 (Soviet Union - impacted 7 October 1965)
  • Luna 8 (Soviet Union - impacted 6 December 1965)

Unmanned Missions

The first successful soft landing was made by the Soviet Union's Luna 9 mission. It landed on the Lunar surface on 3 February 1966 and lasted for six days:

Luna 9 Source

USA had its first successful soft landing shortly after with its Surveyor 1 mission. It landed on 2 June 1966 and survived for 65 hours: Surveyor 1 Source

Luna 13 was the next lander to make it to the Lunar surface. The Soviet lander landed on 24 December 1966 and survived six days. Luna 13 Source

Surveyor 3 was sent by USA and landed on 20 April 1967. It was also the only lander (so far, as of May 7, 2018) to be later visited by astronauts. Its mission lasted about 14 days. Surveyor 3 Source

Surveyor 5 landed on the Moon on 11 September 1967. Its mission lasted 65 hours. Surveyor 5 Source

Surveyor 6 landed on the Moon on 10 November 1967. According to NASA's website, Surveyor 6 was put in hibernation mode on 26 November 1967. It was awakened on 14 December 1967, but no useful data was received, and communication was permanently lost that day. Surveyor 6 Source

Surveyor 7 landed on the Moon on 10 January 1968. It performed its mission collecting images and scientific data until the mission was put on hold on 26 January 1968 because the lunar day had ended where the lander was. The mission resumed on the following lunar day on 12 February 1968 until the mission ended on 21 February 1968. Surveyor 7 Source

Luna 16 was the next successful (unmanned) mission to the Moon. It landed on 24 September 1970 and survived for 12 days. This was the first successful robotic mission that returned a sample from the Lunar surface. NASA's website says that according to an observatory in Germany, good quality pictures were sent back from Luna 16, but those images were never made available.

The Luna 17/Lunokhod 1 mission was the first rover mission. It landed on 17 November 1970, and the mission continued for 322 days. Luna 17/Lunokhod 1 Source

Luna 20 was another sample return mission. It landed on 21 February 1972 and returned to Earth on 25 February 1972. Luna 20 Source

The Luna 21/Lunokhod 2 mission sent another rover to the Moon. It landed on 8 January 1973 and survived 146 days. Luna 21/Lunokhod 2 Source

Luna 24 was the final mission sent in the Luna Program. It landed on 18 August 1976 and returned a sample to Earth on 22 August 1976. I haven't yet found an image taken by Luna 24 on the surface, and from what I've been able to gather so far it doesn't seem as though it was equipped to take pictures.

Chang'e 3 is the first Chinese lander to make it to the Moon, and the first soft landing since 1976. It landed on 14 December 2013. The lander survived for about a year, but the rover only survived for about three months. This picture was taken of the lander by the rover: Chang'e 3

Apollo Missions

Apollo 11 was the famous first manned landing on the lunar surface. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on 20 July 1969, were the first two people to step foot on the Moon. Michael Collins was the other astronaut in this mission. Apollo 11 Source

Apollo 12 landed on the Moon on 19 November 1969. Charles Conrad Jr, Richard F. Gordon, and Alan L. Bean were the three astronauts on this mission. Conrad and Bean were the two astronauts to walk on the surface during this mission. Apollo 12 Source

Apollo 14 landed on 5 February 1971. Alan B. Shepard Jr, Stuart A. Roosa, and Edgar D. Mitchell were the participants in this mission. Shepard and Mitchell were the two astronauts who walked on the surface. Apollo 14 Source

Apollo 15 landed on 30 July 1971. David R. Scott, Alfred M. Worden, and James B. Irwin participated in this mission. Scott and Irwin walked on the lunar surface, and they were the first to drive a NASA lunar rover. Apollo 15 Source

Apollo 16 landed on 21 April 1972. John W. Young, Thomas K. Mattingly II, and Charles M. Duke Jr. were the three astronauts on this mission. Young and Duke were the two to walk on the surface in this mission, and they drove the second NASA lunar rover. Apollo 16 Source

Apollo 17 landed on 11 December 1972, and was the last manned mission to land on the lunar surface. Eugene A. Cernan, Ronald E. Evans, and Harrison H. Schmitt were the astronauts on this mission. Cernan and Schmitt were the two to walk on the surface for this mission, and they drove the third NASA lunar rover. Apollo 17 Source


Messenger did technically land on Mercury, although it was a hard landing. I want to include it because it is the only thing we've sent to the surface of Mercury, and although it didn't take pictures from the surface, it did take pictures of the surface. Messenger Source


The Soviets are the only ones who ever successfully performed a soft landing on Venus, and they were successful in several Venera and Vega missions. NASA also sent two orbiters to Venus as part of the Pioneer project. The second orbiter, Pioneer Venus Multiprobe, included four probes (one large, and three small) that were deployed to analyze the atmosphere. The large probe was deployed on 16 November 1978, and the three small probes were deployed on 20 November, 1978. While these probes were not meant to be landers, one of the small probes did survive the impact with the surface and continued to transmit information for more than an hour before it perished. They were not equipped with cameras, so they took no pictures.

On 15 December 1970, The Soviet Union had its first successful landing on the surface of Venus with the Venera 7 mission. It was the first successful soft landing on another planet. Venera 8 landed on the surface of Venus on 22 July 1972. Neither of these missions returned any images.

Venera 9 landed on the surface on 22 October 1975, and returned the first image from Venus. This was the first image ever sent back from the surface of another planet. Venera 9 Source

Venera 10 landed on 25 October 1975, and also returned images from the surface of Venus. Venera 10 Source

Venera 11 and Venera 12 landed on Venus on 21 December 1978 and 25 December 1978. They were equipped to take images, but their lens covers did not separate, so images were not taken.

Venera 13 landed on Venus on 1 March 1982. It was the first mission to return color images from the surface of Venus. Venera 13 Source

Venera 14 landed on 5 March 1982. It also returned color images. Venera 14 Source

Vega 1 and Vega 2 missions sent landers to Venus on 11 June 1985 and 15 June 1985, but there were no cameras on board so no images were returned.


The Soviet Union sent the first three missions that landed on the surface, but because of complications none of them returned complete images (Mars 3 did attempt to return an image (Wikipedia) that some consider to be of the horizon, but it was unintelligible. On the subject, Wikipedia says "According to the Soviet Academy of Sciences there is nothing, horizon or otherwise, identifiable in the photograph"). These missions were Mars 2 (27 November 1971), Mars 3 (2 December 1971), and Mars 6 (12 March 1974).

The Viking 1 lander was the first to send back images from the surface of Mars. It landed on 20 July 1976 and survived for 1824 days. Viking 1 Source

Viking 2 landed on the surface on 3 September 1976. It operated for 1316 days. Viking 2 Source

Mars Pathfinder/Sojourner mission landed on 4 July 1997. Mars Pathfinder was the name of the lander, and Sojourner was the rover. This was the first rover on Mars. Mars Pathfinder/Sojourner Source

Part of ESA's Mars Express mission was to deploy a British lander named Beagle 2. It was deployed from Mars Express on 19 December 2003 and was scheduled to land on 25 December 2003, but communication with Beagle 2 was never established. The most current explanation is that the solar panels did not deploy properly. Because the communication equipment was housed below the solar panels, Beagle 2 was unable to communicate.

Spirit landed on Mars on 3 January 2004 and survived 2269 days. Spirit Source

Opportunity landed on Mars on 25 January 2004, three weeks after its sister, Spirit. Contact was lost after 10 June 2018. Opportunity Source

Phoenix landed near the north pole of Mars on 25 May 2008. Contact was lost on 2 November 2008. Phoenix Source

Curiosity landed on 6 August 2012. It is still operational. Curiosity Source


Galileo was a probe that studied several bodies in the solar system, especially Jupiter and its moons. On 7 December 1995 it sent an atmospheric probe into Jupiter, and on 21 September 2003 it was sent into Jupiter as well. While these technically weren't landings, it's about as close as you can get on Jupiter (Check out TildalWave's answer on a question about standing on the "surface" of Jupiter). enter image description here

Top image is in visible light, bottom is in near-infrared.


Huygens was a probe sent to Saturn's Moon called Titan as part of the Cassini mission. It landed on the surface on 14 January 2005. It survived for 90 minutes following the landing. According to Nature, it is thought that Huygens operated until the batteries were drained.

enter image description here


433 Eros

A mission called NEAR Shoemaker landed on this asteroid on 12 February 2001. What is interesting about this one is that it wasn't even intended to be a lander, but it was the first soft landing on an asteroid. The decision to attempt the landing was made during its nearly yearlong orbit around the asteroid. It survived the landing and continued to operate for about two more weeks. Communication was lost on 28 February 2001.

enter image description here


25143 Itokawa

Hayabusa was designed to make a very short landing on the surface of the asteroid so that it could return a sample. It made two very short landings on 19 November 2005 and on 25 November 2005. Hayabusa collected dust and returned it to Earth. enter image description here


Tempel 1

Deep Impact was sent to impact the comet Tempel 1 on 4 July 2005 to study its interior. Because of how it impacted, it wasn't able to take pictures from the surface, but did take pictures of the surface just before the impact.

enter image description here


Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko

Philae is a lander deployed by the Rosetta satellite, and was the first to make a soft landing on a comet. Its landing was on 12 November 2014. enter image description here Source

  • 18
    $\begingroup$ Brilliantly documented answer! Isn't it startling how everywhere else in the Solar System is basically a dust-covered brickyard - we don't know how lucky we are... $\endgroup$ – Oscar Bravo Jul 17 '15 at 11:37
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @OwenBoyle The Titan image may not be as much of a dust-covered brickyard as the color leads you to believe. That dirt may be damp, and those rocks are probably rounded by liquid flows. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Jul 21 '15 at 14:54
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh Thank you for the welcome. I see what you mean. To make sure I understand, do you feel we should append "so far" to all of the timely statements, such as, "The Soviets are the only ones who ever successfully performed a soft landing on Venus", "It is the only thing we've sent to the surface of Mercury", "Opportunity is still operational and functioning", and so on? (I will do them all in one edit if so.) $\endgroup$ – Tom May 7 '18 at 18:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Tom just your edit. It's probably better not to make trivial edits at all to other peoples posts, but at least be mindful that the edit doesn't cause additional problems. $\endgroup$ – uhoh May 8 '18 at 1:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Tom Now I've gotten interested in this, and so have asked (What happened to the) Plans to revisit sites of previous lunar landings? Are any active now? $\endgroup$ – uhoh May 8 '18 at 10:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.