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Scientists Say Humans Will Travel to Jupiter in 2100 and Saturn in 2130

An artistic rendering of Jupiter, Saturn and the Earth to scale. Depositphotos.

A paper published in the preprint server arXiv suggests that humankind will have the necessary technology to send humans to Jupiter by the year 2100 and Saturn by the year 2130.

Based on a projected time frame for manned missions beyond Mars, researchers have predicted that humans will be able to travel to Jupiter and Saturn around 2100 and 30 years later, respectively.

Despite its significant challenges, deep space exploration represents the greatest chance for humanity to expand and deepen its understanding of the universe. In the future, unmanned missions will be followed by human-crewed missions to ever-greater destinations. Human-made deep space exploration remains a major national goal for major space powers.

According to NASA’s historical budget trend and overall deep space exploration development trends, a study published on the pre-print server arXiv develops an improved model that projects the earliest possible launch dates for human-crewed missions to Jupiter and Saturn.

To calculate the level of technology required to complete those missions, the authors use a model based on the number of articles published in a given year mentioning deep space exploration. Their study found an exponential growth in the number of articles over time, peaking recently at nearly 2,000 per year.

This combination of linear and exponential relationships results in an equation that can be solved by connecting the distance and time data points from the start of the space race, the first human-crewed moon landing (1969), and the (still hypothetical) first manned landing on Mars, expected as early as 2038.

It is predicted that the first human missions to the asteroid belt and the Jupiter system might occur between 2071 and 2087 and 2101 and 2121, respectively, whereas a launch to the Saturn system is possible by 2132, with a window of uncertainty between 2129 and 2153.

NASA’s Pioneer 10 was the first spacecraft to travel from Earth to Jupiter. It launched on March 3, 1972, and reached the Gas Giant on December 3, 1973.

That’s a total of 640 days of flight time.

However, it is interesting to note that Pioneer 10 was flying by on its way to explore the outer Solar System. During its close approach to Jupiter, the probe took the first close-up pictures ever taken of the planet, then more than 11 years later, it disappeared into deep space before losing contact with NASA.

The Pioneer 11 mission launched a year after the Pioneer 10. During 606 days of travel, the probe made a much closer fly-by of Jupiter, traveling within 21,000 kilometers of the planet, and even visited Saturn.

Voyager was the next spacecraft to venture out into deep space. Voyager 1 arrived on March 5, 1979, after taking 546 days. Voyager 2 arrived on March 1, 1978, after 688 days of travel.

So, if you would like to travel to Saturn and Jupiter, considering our current technological capabilities, humankind would need somewhere between 500 and 600 days to reach the Gas Giants.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the fastest speed reached by a spacecraft was 163 kilometers per second (586,800 miles per hour; 364,660 mph), which was achieved by the Parker Solar Probe at 21:25:24 UTC on November 20, 2021.

During perihelion, the probe achieved this speed due to an assist from a Venus fly-by on October 16 that tightened its orbit. As a result, it passed within a distance of 8,541,744 km (5,307,594 mi) of the surface of the Sun. The record will remain until the 17th perihelion of the Parker Solar Probe, which is scheduled for September 27 2023.

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