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WASHINGTON: America’s top space scientists have drawn up a programme for space exploration in the 1970s and 1980s which would involve sending vessels to the five cold planets of the solar system — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

The scientists of the Space Division of the American National Academy of Sciences point out that from 1974, a period began which will not come about again until the second half of the 21st century in which conditions will be highly favourable.

The majority of the planets will be placed in such a position in place such that a vessel sent to one of them could benefit from its field of gravity to receive a boost in speed, enabling it to travel onto a second.

The five planets will be at their closest to the Earth, from Jupiter at 367 million miles to Pluto at 3,200 million miles.

The programme of recommendations to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration published today [Aug 3] includes a flight to Jupiter in 1974 when a vessel will leave a capsule equipped with instruments in the planet’s atmosphere and then, with a boost from Jupiter’s gravity, will carry on to go into a solar orbit.

Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2019