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Hank fills us in on the four exploratory missions to space that he is most excited about - New Horizons is going to Pluto and the Kuiper belt; Juno is on it's way to Jupiter; Dawn is exploring two large asteroids; Rosetta will land on a comet!

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Hello, this is Hank Green, and welcome to this SciShow Dose.

Now, we've talked a lot about interplanetary missions, new and old, from the 35-year-old expeditions of Voyager I and II, to the amazing things currently happening on Mars with the Curiosity Rover.

The great thing about our space agencies is that there's always a new mission on route to a planet or asteroid or moon or comet. In fact, the middle part of this decade is shaping up to be really awesome on the exploration front, as probes reach their destinations at various corners of the solar system.

Here are the four that I'm most excited about.

Number 1: New Horizons is the furthest-reaching of any current mission and is now more than two-thirds of the way through its full 2.6 billion kilometer journey to Pluto. The spacecraft was launched in early 2006, so long ago that Pluto was still considered a planet when it left. I wonder if it would have gone if it'd known about the demotion.

In July of 2015 the piano-sized spacecraft will conduct the first up-close, in-depth study of Pluto and its moons, passing within 9,600 kilometers of the dwarf planet. From there, it'll likely continue to study other objects in the Kuiper Belt, the region of icy rocky bodies far beyond Neptune's orbit, that includes Pluto.

Number 2: JUNO. Launched in 2011, is on route to Jupiter, where in August 2016 it will begin the first of about 33 orbits, designed to collect data about the gas giant's structure, and how it formed.

As you know, Jupiter doesn't have a solid surface, its atmosphere is mostly hydrogen and helium that gets denser with depth. Scientists are hoping to learn more about what goes on beneath that, and are especially interested in how the planet's powerful magnetic field is generated.

The spacecraft will also give us the first detailed look at Jupiter's poles, which produce the most intense auroras in the solar system, and I am very much looking forward to those photos.

Number 3: DAWN, which you may have already heard of because it's already halfway through its mission of becoming the first spacecraft to orbit two different bodies. Its task is to study the two largest objects in the asteroid belt.

Launched in 2007, DAWN entered orbit around its first target, the asteroid Vesta, in July of 2011, and departed in September, mapping its entire surface and measuring its mineral makeup.

Its next stop is Ceres, the largest asteroid and the only dwarf planet in the inner solar system. Covered with clay and ice, some have even predicted that Ceres could contain a liquid inner ocean.

DAWN is scheduled to enter orbit, beginning the first detailed study of Ceres, in February of 2015. By studying these two bodies, scientists hope to learn more about the formation of the solar system, because the asteroids seem to have very different compositions.

While Vesta resembles the rocky bodies of the inner solar system, Ceres is more like the large icy moons of the outer solar system, and may even possess a weak atmosphere.

Number 4: Finally, the European Space Agencies Rosetta is scheduled, in May 2014, to become the first spacecraft to undertake the long-term exploration of a comet at close quarters. It's gonna land on the thing.

Launched in 2004, Rosetta will have traveled 790 million kilometers by the time it enters orbit around comet 67P, also known as Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta will release a small lander, armed with two harpoons, onto the icy surface of the comet, which is about 4 kilometers wide.

Over the course of 2 years, Rosetta and its lander will send back data to shed light on the origin of comets. One of the instruments they'll be using is a UV spectrograph called Alice that may be able to estimate the temperature at the time of the comet's creation.

So yeah, I'm pretty excited about these missions, and can't wait to talk more about them in 2, 3, or 4 years from now.

Thank you for watching, if you have any questions for us we're on Facebook and Twitter and of course, in the comments below, and if you want to keep getting smarter with us, you can go to and subscribe.