Science: Clouds over the Cosmos

Budgetary cuts could destroy U.S. planetary program

Aluminous pink sunset on the planet Mars. The unexpected eruption of volcanoes on the tiny Jovian moon lo. Swirling storms on Jupiter. A continent-size landmass hidden under the thick, sulfurous clouds of Venus. The astonishingly beautiful and complex rings of Saturn.

These are only some of the spellbinding vistas opened up by the U.S. program of planetary exploration. In the past two decades, technologically gifted robots, acting as electronic eyes and ears, have flown by and inspected every planet known to the ancients, from sunbaked Mercury, the...

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