A large number of missions to the astronomical objects of our Solar System have successfully produced a wealth of knowledge about our neighbourhood in space. Images that capture the surfaces of these diverse bodies or, in the case of the large gas planets, the outermost layers of their atmosphere play a key role in the exploration of our Solar System. For this purpose, space probes employ various instruments and techniques, including photography (conventional at first, later followed by digital technologies) as well as imaging spectroscopy across a range of shorter and longer wavelengths. The classical process by which alien astronomical objects are explored comprises the stages listed below. Each of these steps represents a mission scenario more complex than the last in terms of technology, navigation, propulsion technology, and scientific requirements: • Remote observations of objects of interest from Earth or space telescopes • Launch; brief ‘parking‘ in orbit (optional); injection into an interplanetary trajectory • Flyby past the target body • Hard landing on the surface and/or atmospheric probe • Orbit around the celestial body • Soft landing on the surface and activation of an experimental station • Robotic vehicles (rovers), balloon and aircraft probes/drones • Return of samples • Crewed expedition.
In the meantime all planets and many of their moons in the solar system as well as some asteroids and comets have been visited. The module space missions will provide an overview of the exploration of the solar system and will highlight selected topics in detail. The participants will contribute by presentations discussing the above topics and future mission perspectives.