Interplanetary Robots: True Stories of Space Exploration

Interplanetary Robots: True Stories of Space Exploration

by Rod Pyle


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A NASA insider tells the exciting story of robotic space missions to explore the solar system.

Exploring the planets has been a goal of America's space program since the dawn of the space race. This insider's perspective examines incredible missions of robotic spacecraft to every corner of our solar system and beyond. Some were flown into glory, while others were planned and relegated to dusty filing cabinets. All were remarkable in their aspirations.

Award-winning science writer Rod Pyle profiles both the remarkable spacecraft and the amazing scientists and engineers who made them possible. From the earliest sprints past Venus and Mars to Voyager1's current explorations of the space between the stars, this exciting book sheds new light on ever-more ambitious journeys designed to increase the human reach into the solar system. Drawing on his perspective as a writer for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, ground zero for NASA's planetary exploration, the author further details plans now in development to look for signs of life on Jupiter's moon Europa, submarines that will dive into the hazy hydrocarbon lakes of Saturn's moon Titan, and intelligent spacecraft that will operate for months without human intervention on Mars and in the outer solar system well into the 2030s. Equally compelling are programs of exploration that were considered but never left the drawing board, such as automobile-sized biology laboratories designed for a Mars landing in the 1960s and plans to detonate atomic bombs on the moon.

Complemented by many rarely-seen photos and illustrations, these stories of incredible engineering achievements, daring imaginations, and technological genius will fascinate and inspire.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781633885028
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Publication date: 01/29/2019
Pages: 376
Sales rank: 606,370
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Rod Pyle is the author of the widely acclaimed Curiosity: An Inside Look at the Mars Rover Mission and the People Who Made It Happen and Destination Mars—called "the best recent overview of Mars missions" by the Washington Post—and also Destination Moon, Missions to the Moon, and a popular audiobook called The Space Race. He has produced numerous documentaries for the History Channel and Discovery Communications, including the widely praised Modern Marvels: Apollo 11. He has been an assistant professor at the University of La Verne and a lecturer with NASA's Johnson Space Center.

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Excerpted from "Interplanetary Robots"
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Copyright © 2019 Rod Pyle.
Excerpted by permission of Prometheus Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents

Foreword 9

Introduction 11

Chapter 1 Alone in the Dark 15

Chapter 2 The Center of the Universe: Part 1 19

Chapter 3 Early Plans 31

Chapter 4 Frau im Mond 39

Chapter 5 Suicide on the Moon 51

Chapter 6 Flash Forward: The Lunar Flashlight 61

Chapter 7 Mars in the Crosshairs 65

Chapter 8 Flash Forward: MarCO 79

Chapter 9 Landing on Luna Incognita 83

Chapter 10 Russian Rovers 89

Chapter 11 Flash Forward; Prospecting the Moon 93

Chapter 12 The Center of the Universe: Part 2 97

Chapter 13 Voyagers on Mars? 105

Chapter 14 … And Then Came Viking 119

Chapter 15 Flash Forward: Mars Has MOXIE! 143

Chapter 16 Barnstorming Venus: Part 1 147

Chapter 17 Barnstorming Venus: Part 2 157

Chapter 18 Flash Forward: The Tick-Tock Rover 165

Chapter 19 The Center of the Universe: Part 3 169

Chapter 20 A Grand-Ish Tour 171

Chapter 21 Pioneering Jupiter and Saturn 177

Chapter 22 JPL's Finest Hour: The Voyagers, Part 1 183

Chapter 23 Brief Encounters: The Voyagers, Part 2 199

Chapter 24 Into the Void: The Voyagers, Part 3 209

Chapter 25 Flash Forward: Going Interstellar 217

Chapter 26 Not by a Longshot 221

Chapter 27 Ruddy Chunks of a Red Planet: Mars 5M 225

Chapter 28 Flash Forward: Robotic Rendezvous at Mars 235

Chapter 29 Jupiter's Revenge 239

Chapter 30 Flash Forward: Inflatable Antennas 267

Chapter 31 The Center of the Universe: Part 4 269

Chapter 32 Saturn Ahoy 275

Chapter 33 Flash Forward: Diving on Titan 299

Chapter 34 A Return to Mars 303

Chapter 35 Flash Forward: Grabbing Those Samples 315

Chapter 36 Other Missions of Exploration and Discovery 317

Chapter 37 The Center of the Universe: Part 5 327

Notes 329

Index 345

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