Starry eyed

30th March 2007 at 01:00
Forget learning to drive a car. In two weeks' time, pupils in east London hope to pilot the Cassini spacecraft at speeds of up to 7,494 miles an hour.

Nasa has offered to hand over the controls of the Saturn-bound spacecraft to a group of British school students - but they have to earn it.

Pupils from Morpeth school in Tower Hamlets are among 250 young people competing to pilot Cassini remotely for 45 minutes early on the morning of April 13 as it heads to within one million miles of the solar system's second largest planet. They will set the co-ordinates that rotate the spacecraft and its camera.

The drawback? Cassini is now so far away that they will have to wait more than an hour for the photographs to reach Earth.

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