Science: The Year of the Planets

The U.S. begins a dazzling new era in space exploration

More than three years have passed without an American astronaut in space, and the once vigorous U.S. program of unmanned planetary exploration has been at low ebb since the Viking landings on Mars in 1976. Compared with the ambitious Soviets, whose cosmonauts have just spent almost 140 days orbiting the earth, U.S. space officials have had little to crow about. All that is about to change. Last week the U.S. made a dramatic start on what should be a spectacular twelve months in the...

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