Traversing Space-Time: How Long Would It Take To Reach The Planets?

As humans, there are perhaps two ways that we respond to the unknown, to the looming uncertainty. It will either stop us in our tracks—because of fear—or it can incite a certain degree of awe that will move one to search for the answers. One of the biggest uncertainties that have scratched human thought is the vastness of space. It is the wildest of all the wild west and the epitome of mystery. Beyond the stars that sprawl the night sky, space is even filled with the invisible: dark matter, black holes, neutrinos, unknown planets.

One of the greatest astronomers of our time even admitted that his job is by no means done. Carl Sagan was moved by his awe of the universe when he wrote that “We will look for the boundary between the solar system and the interstellar medium, and then we’ll voyage on forever in the dark between the stars.” This realization is perhaps evident to the people who dedicate and have dedicated their lives in search of answers.

Presently, with our present technology, traveling to Mars is near reality, thanks to the investments of private companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX. A big question would be how long or how far will the hypothetical spacecraft be suspended in the sea of space and time before reaching Mars? Or the other planets in particular?


Mercury gets its name from the Roman god with winged feet that enables him to travel faster than the other gods. This is also relevant in the cosmic setting since Mercury revolves around the sun fastest at 88 days.

In a ‘70s mission, it took NASA’s Mariner 10 140 plus days to reach the outer recesses of the planet. However, to be able to appreciate Mercury’s details, it will take approximately six and a half years to penetrate the planet’s orbit.


Venus is quite the opposite of Earth: it spins in reverse, it rotates slowly on its axis, and it does not have seasons. Venus was believed to be habitable in the past, but its surface is immensely hot.

Traveling to the scorching planet may take around three months (or 97 days), even if it is relatively closer compared to the other planets.


It will take approximately nine months to get to the blazing red planet. Currently, NASA had an investment in the Perseverance Rover as a part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, which aimed at collecting data about potential life on the planet.


It may perhaps be a long shot from entering Jupiter’s atmosphere since it is mainly made up of gas. Traveling to one of its moons, Europa, might, however, be possible and could take approximately more than five years. NASA had attempted this by using the Earth’s gravity to slingshot the spacecraft Galileo.


In 1997, NASA launched Cassini to be sent to Saturn. It took almost seven years for the spacecraft to arrive at the ringed planet. It is worth noting that the journey to Saturn allowed it to have a taste of the orbit of the planets in between. With the Huygens lander on board, NASA was able to gather data from its moon, Titan.


Twenty years before Cassini was launched for Saturn, an attempt to explore Uranus was made. In August of 1977, the Voyager 2 was launched and reached Uranus after nine and a half years. With the present investments in technology, this trip might be shortened.


After passing Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus, the Voyager arrived at Neptune in August 1989 after traveling in space for 12 years. The spacecraft has been closely observing the planet from June to October 1989. It is worth noting that after the Voyager exits Neptune’s orbit, it will head out of the solar system and will study ultraviolet emissions from the stars.


A $720 million investment was made in an attempt to study the dwarf planet. Despite the recent advancement in 2006 compared to the older spacecrafts, it took 9.5 years for the spacecraft to reach Pluto, which is situated 3 billion miles from the Earth.