There are no rockets powerful enough to hurl a spacecraft into the outer solar system and beyond.
In 1962, scientists calculated how to use Jupiter's intense gravity to hurl spacecraft into the farthest regions of the solar system.
The resulting collisional cascade generated a planetesimal disk that, evolving under gas drag, would have driven any preexisting short-period planets into the Sun.
In this scenario, the Solar System’s terrestrial planets formed from gas-starved mass-depleted debris that remained after the primary period of dynamical evolution.
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“The moons that orbit Jupiter are mostly water ice, so the whole neighborhood has plenty of water,” said Gordon L.
Bjoraker, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
Cumulatively, our results place the Solar System and the mechanisms that shaped its unique orbital architecture into a broader, extrasolar context.
The statistics of extrasolar planetary systems indicate that the default mode of planet formation generates planets with orbital periods shorter than 100 days and masses substantially exceeding that of the Earth.