We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is a Deep Space Probe?

Mary McMahon
Updated Jan 31, 2024
Our promise to you
AllTheScience is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At AllTheScience, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A deep space probe is a spacecraft drone that makes a one way trip into deep space to collect scientific information and broadcast it back to Earth. Probes collect valuable material and are sometimes a topic of public interest. Some examples include the Pioneer and Voyager spacecrafts launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States. Individual costs for a single probe can be very high, as researchers need to design the systems and components new each time, applying information they learned from previous successes and failures.

The probe carries scientific instruments capable of recording data in a number of formats. These include cameras as well as sensors to pick up radiation, isotopes of interest, temperature, and other data. The probe may regularly transmit data, or researchers may periodically contact it for a download. As it travels, the signals can become weaker and eventually the deep space probe will not respond to contact from Earth. Lost probes will continue to travel, potentially for millions of years.

Design of a deep space probe must include heavy duty cladding for protection. Radiation levels are very high in space and can interfere with systems on board the probe. In addition, there is a risk of object collisions that must be considered as well. Researchers do not want to launch a probe only to lose it almost immediately to an accident. The heavy duty cladding can also provide insulation, as space is very cold and many electrical systems will not function properly in the extreme cold of deep space.

Meeting the power supply needs of a deep space probe can be a complex task. Probes use solar panels to generate energy to power their systems and also rely on radioisotope thermal generators, which take advantage of the heat created through nuclear decay to make energy. The probe also typically turns off systems when they are not needed. Guidance and control systems remain powered, while cameras and sensors are off until the system turns them on again.

The deep space probe also has a battery array. Lithium-thionyl chloride batteries are commonly used in deep space missions as well as rovers like those landed on Mars. The batteries have a very large storage capacity. The long duration of operations can result in considerable power needs over time. Space agencies may contract out battery development to specialty firms who are capable of meeting the need for extremely durable high capacity batteries.

AllTheScience is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllTheScience researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Read more
AllTheScience, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

AllTheScience, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.