Letter: Launching the millennium

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The Independent Online
From Dr D. A. Rothery

Sir: Nothing that I have seen proposed for the millennium inspires me. There are more worthy things than temples, opera houses and parties. Despite our heritage of great navigators, we British have played little part in the exploration of the solar system. There is only one main planet that has not yet been visited by a reconnaissance space probe, and this is Pluto.

Nasa has a Pluto probe in the design stage, which could be ready for launch in the year 2000, but lacks the financial resources to proceed. If the Millennium Commission were to stump up pounds 100m, Britain could buy a controlling share in it.

If we were heavily involved in this enterprise it could provide a stimulus for educational initiatives, as well as a boost for British science, throughout the 10-year mission. Moreover, the first space probe to Pluto will be remembered for a thousand years, and that surely is the point of the whole thing.

Yours faithfully,

David A. Rothery

Department of Earth Sciences

The Open University

Milton Keynes

26 January

From Mr Ed Jackman

Sir: It has been stated that there are over 1,000 mosques in the UK. However, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the home of Islam, there is not a single church, yet plenty of Christians.

Would not the Prince of Wales better serve the spirit of the millennium by using his influence - from one royal house to another - to redress this imbalance?


Ed Jackman

Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex

25 January