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In the same way that sailors long to make landfall after a long voyage at sea, space travelers—Benson conceives—will yearn for “planetfall,” which he defines as the act of reaching a planet after a space journey. It’s easy to imagine that this view of Earth would warm a traveler’s heart. This photo was taken by the Rosetta spacecraft as it headed away from Earth on its way to study a comet.
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Each January, the editors of
IEEE Spectrum offer up some predictions about technical developments we expect to be in the news over the coming year. You’ll find a couple dozen of those described in the following special report. Of course, the number of things we could have written about is far higher, so we had to be selective in picking which projects to feature. And we’re not ashamed to admit, gee-whiz appeal often shaped our choices.