Red Rover: Inside the Story of Robotic Space Exploration, from Genesis to the Curiosity Rover

Roger Wiens. Basic, $25 (224p) ISBN 978-0-465-05598-2
This entertaining insider account of Wiens’s work on two groundbreaking robotic space explorers—the Genesis and Curiosity rovers—captures all the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of modern space science. An early fascination with all things intergalactic led Wiens from a childhood of model rockets to a career at NASA after the Challenger disaster. Under the leadership of administrator Dan Goldin, the rattled agency focused its efforts on discovery missions: small, specialized, and relatively cheap robotic programs. Wiens’s Genesis project—a probe that would collect samples of solar wind and return them to Earth—made the cut and launched in 2001 after years of planning. Despite an unexpected crash landing, Genesis vindicated itself by delivering valuable data intact. Wiens’s next pitch persuaded NASA to add the ChemCam, a device that uses a laser to burn minerals to reveal their composition, to a Mars rover, but everything from forest fires and funding issues to lab closures and the loss of the Columbia in 2003 kept ChemCam Earthbound until Curiosity launched in 2011. Wiens brings his work to life, candidly addressing the inevitable technological and bureaucratic obstacles and failures that compose the frustrating prelude to scientific victory. 16 b&w images. Agent: Felicia Eth, Felicia Eth Literary Representation. (Mar. 12)
Reviewed on: 01/07/2013
Release date: 03/01/2013
Ebook - 257 pages - 978-0-465-05199-1
Ebook - 241 pages - 978-0-465-03191-7
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