From the Editors; Magnificent Cosmos; Scientific American Presents; by Rennie; 1 Page(s)
Exploration of space has sprinted forward over the past two decades, even though no human has ventured outside the lunar orbit. Thanks to strings of probes with names like Voyager, Pioneer, Galileo, Magellan and SOHO, planetary and solar science thrived. We have seen all the planets but Pluto from close by, visited Mars and Venus by proxy, and even witnessed the collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy with Jupiter. The moons graduated from minor players to varied, exotic worlds in their own right and possibly to abodes for life. The sun revealed its complex internal anatomy. Whole new classes of frozen bodies beyond Neptune's orbit came into view.
Meanwhile the magnificent Hubble Space Telescope, other orbiting instruments and their Earth-bound cousins peered clearly into deeper space. They showed us new types of galaxies and stars, spotted planets around other suns and took the temperature of the big bang. We better appreciated our own solar system after seeing how fiercely bright some corners of the universe burn.