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But Jupiter is enormous, in mass, area and volume far out-massing anybody in the solar system save the sun itself: it is like a pocket universe.

And we know virtually nothing about it which is one reason Al and I were drawn to our sequel project.

In the twentieth century however the advance of astronomy gave us a more realistic framework to explore. He had not expected the lashing downpour would be reduced to drifting purple mist that moved like fleeing shadows over a red and purple sward.

Jupiter, over three hundred times as massive as the Earth but with a much lower density, must be made of the same stuff as the sun, and must have roughly the same composition: hydrogen, helium, and other elements in traces. For now, however, they lack the technological means to escape their world. Simaks Desertion (1944) shows an attempt to cope with Jupiters hellish conditions by transforming humans into a form of Jovian life: He had expected a hell of ammonia rain and stinking fumes and the deafening, thundering tumult of the storm . Poul Andersons Call Me Joe (1957) features a kind of tele-operation.

But to have reached the stars in Avatars future, humans must have reached, and probably exploited, the worlds of our solar system. But weve sent unmanned spacecraft to inspect all the planets and their moons save distant Pluto, and have landed on several of them - and what weve found among the worlds of the solar system is wonderful enough, even if its not at all what we expected (though that in itself is a great news for a scientist).

So before we rush off to the stars, lets stop and smell the interplanetary flowers. And if humans are going anywhere in space in your lifetime, and your childrens, its likely to be to one of these destinations. So lets take a brisk informal tour of the Seven Wonders of the Solar System, as chosen by me (youre free to disagree with my selection), and in no particular order - save for the last, which is the closest were likely to get to Avatars Pandora for a good while.

Later, a detailed study by Sagan and Salpeter (1976) led to a famous visual depiction in Sagans Cosmos TV series of cloud beasts not unlike Clarkes. Indeed the planet was a central location in the saga for which Clarke may be best remembered, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and its sequels.

In 2001 itself, while in the movie version Jupiter was the destination for the Discovery spacecraft, in the novel Jupiter was used merely for a flyby and gravitational slingshot en route to Saturn.

In the year 3020, as a by-product of a complex conflict over how to deal with the discovery of Jovian life, Galileo is drawn through time into an extraordinary journey into a Jupiter full of life and mind: The bands and the swirls have always been its thoughts . In the audio drama The Jupiter Conjunction (2012), the Fifth Doctor encounters Jovians, inhabitants of the planets atmosphere, gas, dust and vapour held together by some navigating consciousness . Jupiters moons, which are relatively Earthlike worlds, tend to attract more attention than the great planet itself.

At the moons north pole, at a crater called Peary, there are mountains where the sun never sets.

This is believed to be the only site in the solar system where this is true.

It was perhaps Clarkes last significant work of short fiction, and has been reprinted many times since perhaps most notably as a terrifically illustrated serial in the short-lived magazine Speed & Power (IPC, issues 513, 1974), a rendition which made a significant impact on the imagination of a young Reynolds.

But Clarke said (in Astounding Days, 1989) that his own fascination with Jupiter began much earlier, with the spectacular cover painting by Frank R.

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