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Drifting on Alien Winds: Exploring the Skies and Weather of Other Worlds Hardcover – February 1, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1441969163 ISBN-10: 1441969160 Edition: 2011th

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 211 pages
  • Publisher: Springer; 2011 edition (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441969160
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441969163
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.7 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,427,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/langley/news/researchernews/rn_JulyColloquium.html

From the reviews:

“A very respectable science reference book, a book of very, very pretty pictures, with captions … . very useful and informed reference book, packed with science and stories, tales of triumph and failure, and as many questions as answers. … this is a fantastic book, much more than people will expect it to be when they first hear about it or see it advertised. It’s not simply a book of or about space art; it chronicles the past, present and future of space exploration.” (Cumbrian Sky, May, 2011)

“Drifting on Alien Winds is as much about what we don’t know about weather as what we do. … It was an interesting book filled with much technical information about weather that was written in an easily understandable manner with pictures … of technicians handling the Galileo probe to the wonderous artist rendering of nights on Saturn. I enjoyed reading the book … . It is a book that will make you think and keep you coming back for more.” (James Wedge, Goodreads, 2011)

“All the sensible atmospheres and their phenomena are described and explained in the clear, concise language … . Nowhere else will you find such kaleidoscopic coverage of atmospheres, from the hell-hole of Venus to the blue orb of Neptune. … This book is a delight just for the fascinating facts in the text, but at the same time enlightens our understanding and intrigues our interest with the abundant colorful photos and art work.” (ComMarBen, Goodreads, 2011)

“Mike Carroll’s ‘Drifting on Alien Winds’ is a sweeping survey of planetary exploration past, present and future. The book is a delightfully stunning combination of hard science, informed speculation, and breathtaking art. I’ve spent more than 30 years in the ‘space biz’ and I learned a lot from this beautiful book.” (K. Jeff, Goodreads, 2011)

“Both easy to understand and enjoyable to read while covering some often-complex subjects, this is an outstanding book. … Carroll tours the reader through Earth’s atmosphere and out into our solar system. … Highly recommended for those who want to know what humans can achieve when we turn our curiosity to exploration and understanding. The illustrations are also beautiful and informative.” (Goodreads, 2011)

“A useful reference book on the composition and atmospheres of other planets. … pictures are in fact photographic images from NASA and other sources; but they are still useful and valuable complements to the artist’s visualisations. … Overall, I recommend this book to all who are interested in planetary astronomy, in the past, present and future of space exploration, and in knowing more about our neighbouring worlds.” (David A. Hardy, Goodreads, 2011)

“Carroll’s latest book, Drifting on Alien Winds; Exploring the Skies and Weather of Other Worlds published by Springer Books, combines his art and interest in space to bring the reader a fascinating insight into the weather systems and atmospheres of the Planets and Satellites of our Solar System.” (Paul Rumsby, Best Astronomy Books, September, 2011)

“An original and fact-filled look at atmospheres of other worlds – and how scientists and engineers are taking on the challenge of riding through alien skies. The reader will find this distinctive book a marvelous and fun read – and handsomely illustrated, some of which come from Carroll himself. … This volume provides excellent tutorials on the science of planetary atmospheres and weather patterns of other planets and moons in our Solar System and how we learn about them.” (Leonard David, Space Coalition, November, 2011)

“Drifting On Alien Winds sets out to survey the remarkable climate and weather systems of the Solar System, and achieves its aim admirably. Its large-format pages are filled with detailed, thoroughly researched but approachable text, accompanied by copious illustrations that range from the latest space probe images, through archive material to the author’s own stunning artworks. Carroll divides his book into three broad sections. … A fascinating book for anyone interested in the Solar System’s wonderful weather.” (Giles Sparrow, Sky at Night Magazine, January, 2012)

From the Back Cover

Drifting on Alien Winds explores the bizarre weather of alien worlds, from the blistering hurricane-force winds of Venus to the gentle methane rain showers of Saturn's giant moon Titan. Blinding bolts of lightning sizzle through Jupiter's skies, ammonia blizzards swirl through Saturnian clouds, and Earth-sized cyclones pinwheel across Uranus and Neptune. Late-breaking scientific discoveries from spacecraft, observatories, and laboratories reveal the mysteries of weather across the Solar System. Our knowledge of weather on other worlds has not come easily. Drifting on Alien Winds introduces the inventors, engineers, and scientists who struggled to launch the first probes that would help us to understand the atmospheres of other worlds. The untold stories of early engineering feats and failures, from small Soviet Venus balloons to advanced studies of blimps and airplanes for Mars and Titan, are showcased here, along with what we’ve learned and are still trying to learn about alien skies. Some of today’s most creative and scientifically feasible ideas for voyaging through distant skies are presented. With spectacular spacecraft images and stunning original paintings by the author, Drifting on Alien Winds is a feast for the eyes as well as the mind.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 7 customer reviews
The illustrations are also beautiful and informative.
AReader
What a wonderful way to surf the winds of other planets while learning mind-boggling facts about the zoo of atmospheres spread across our solar system.
ComMarBen
If you are unfamiliar with his work and are lucky enough to have a copy of Carl Sagan's 1994 "Pale Blue Dot", you will find 6 of Carroll's paintings.
Magnifying Glass

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. A. Hardy on August 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is subtitled: "Exploring the Skies and Weather of Other Worlds". Michael Carroll is well known as a space artist (he is a Fellow of the International Association of Astronomical Artists --- IAAA) as well as a prolific writer. However, anyone expecting a book full of imaginative scenes on other worlds may be surprised, as this is very much more than that, being a mine of information, a useful reference book on the composition and atmospheres of other planets. And in fact probably the majority of the pictures are in fact photographic images from NASA and other sources; but they are still useful and valuable complements to the artist's visualisations.

The book is divided into three parts. The first, `Starting Here and Getting There' discusses our own skies and atmosphere, and how weather is created. This also discusses Earth's water cycle, and how humans are changing our environment. Chapter 2, which opens with a very nice Renaissance-style painting of one of Leonardo da Vinci's flying machine over an Italian landscape, goes on to discuss our dreams of flight and how we finally made them reality and went on not just to fly, but to travel to other worlds, and even land on the distant moon of Saturn, Titan. Other chapters are devoted to Venus, Mars (including of course techniques for landing, using rockets, aerobraking, parachutes, airbags, etc.), and the outer planets.

In Part 2 the dynamics of the atmospheres, and also the geology, of Venus, Mars and the outer planets and their satellites are discussed in much more detail, with particular attention to Titan and its `Earthlike' features.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jeff K. on April 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Mike Carroll's 'Drifting on Alien Winds' is a sweeping survey of planetary exploration past, present and future. The book is a delighfully stunning combination of hard science, informed speculation, and breathtaking art. I've spent more than 30 years in the 'space biz' and I learned a lot from this beautiful book. Bravo! First rate!
Jeff K.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ComMarBen on April 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a wonderful way to surf the winds of other planets while learning mind-boggling facts about the zoo of atmospheres spread across our solar system. Without an atmosphere, our planet would be nearly or totally barren. It provides the oxygen we humans and all other animals must breathe, and the carbon dioxide all plants need to be able to grow. An atmosphere bombards us with dynamic weather, sometimes violent, sometimes beautiful, and so often awe-inspiring.
The planets being discovered around other stars, the so-called exo-planets, are of very special interest when they have an atmosphere, but because they are so far away, it is the atmospheres within our own solar system which we can study well today.
Alien Winds captures all this in text and abundant space photographs, highlighted by numerous spectacular paintings by the author himself. There are no equations and no distracting excursions into the extremely tenuous "atmospheres" of Mercury or the moon. Instead, all the sensible atmospheres and their phenomena are described and explained in the clear, concise language we have come to expect from Carroll.
The book is organized by planet and moon, so that the reader may dive into a chapter or simply read bits of it at a time. Always captivating, the facts are enlivened by short interviews with leading planetary scientists to capture in their own words the science and excitement of their discoveries. Spacecraft missions - past, present and future - are described in overview style to reveal how these new discoveries have come about and how exploration will be done in the future.
Nowhere else will you find such kaleidoscopic coverage of atmospheres, from the hell-hole of Venus to the blue orb of Neptune.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Magnifying Glass on January 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Before you sail off in your interplanetary spaceship to tour these airy worlds in our Solar System, it would be worth your while to review Carroll's book; you certainly need to be prepared for these hostile environments.

You have eight destinations from which to choose: there are the obscure worlds of Venus and Titan; the worlds of seemingly bottomless atmospheres of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune; the dust-veiled world of Mars; and lastly the seasonally-aired world of Triton.

After you have read the book, you will be struck with how little is really known about these gaseous envelopes in spite of the fact that numerous space probes have been dispatched to these destinations. Carroll describes many of these probes, their successes and failures, and includes extensive quotes from those involved.

There are many examples of Carroll's artwork depicting alien scenes; there is one whimsical painting of Da Vinci's flying corkscrew. If you are unfamiliar with his work and are lucky enough to have a copy of Carl Sagan's 1994 "Pale Blue Dot", you will find 6 of Carroll's paintings.

Minor Issues:
1. Inconsistent units: For example, on page 102, "This planet is rotating slower than you can walk - about 4 miles per hour. And yet, the winds are howling at 100 m/s."
2. Wording on diagrams difficult to read: the diagrams are too small and the font colors have low contrast.
3. Pages are thin: print and photos from the back of the page show through.

Traveler's caution: If you are planning a jaunt through the Venusian cloud decks, pay particular attention to this line on page 102, "Both balloons hit updrafts, or vertical winds with speeds reaching 2 km/s." It may not sound like much but when you convert it to mph, that is 4,474 mph (7,200 km/hr)! This may be a typo, but just-in-case it isn't, you will be in for quiet a bumpy ride; remember to fasten your seat belt!
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