NASA unit sets ambitious course



After two decades of spectacular successes, planetary exploration has fallen upon hard times. It has been five years since a new spacecraft was launched toward the planets, and NASA has under current development only one planetary mission—Galileo, which will orbit Jupiter and probe its atmosphere in 1988. The intellectual challenge of understanding the planets and their common origin and evolution has not, of course, declined, and a great deal of exciting work is being accomplished using data (and samples) from past missions. But planetologists fear the demise of their discipline within a few years if momentum cannot be restored to NASA's program of planetary exploration.