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Moon Hunters: NASA's Remarkable Expeditions to the Ends of the Solar Systems Paperback – July 10, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 Touchsto edition (July 10, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684865599
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684865591
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,334,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Earth's moon is a gray, lifeless place, interesting geologically but perhaps a little disappointing to those of us looking for strange, colorful new worlds. But our moon is only one of more than 60 planetary satellites in the solar system, most of which are entirely unexplored. In Moon Hunters (published in hardcover as Journey Beyond Selene), Jeffrey Kluger chronicles these unsung places and the heroes who explore them: the Jet Propulsion Lab's staff of dedicated adventurers, who build and fly sleek, unmanned spacecraft to investigate other moons. "When astronauts finally did reach the moon," Kluger writes, "the lean, fleet ships of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory had already gone elsewhere."

Why explore the satellites of other planets when the planets themselves remain mysterious? Kluger describes astronomers' first realization that in contrast to the lifeless gas giant Jupiter, its moons were a veritable scientific playground:

There were big moons and small moons, patterned moons and plain moons, brightly colored moons and pasty-pale moons.... There were moons that could have atmospheres, water, and even, perhaps, a spark of internal heat. Put them together, and you had moons that could, in theory, harbor life.

Moon Hunters chronicles the history of a little-understood aspect of humanity's quest to discover new worlds. From the early Ranger orbiters through the incredible journeys of Voyager and Galileo, Kluger gives credit where credit is long overdue. They may not be astronauts, but these space jockeys have the right stuff. --Therese Littleton

Review

Carolyn T. Hughes The New York Times Book Review Entertaining...Kluger does a fine job chronicling...the scientists and engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory [who] are in the business of making the seemingly impossible somehow possible. -- Review

Customer Reviews

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See all 9 customer reviews
It is extremely well written and the content held my attention from beginning to end.
G. Jablonski
This book will prove to be a good one source reading for a concise summary of planetary exploration to this time.
Frederick Sonnichsen
This was an excellent survey of the USA's unmanned missions to explore the solar system.
Bruce Lilley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By G. Jablonski on April 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
Don't overlook this book. It is extremely well written and the content held my attention from beginning to end. It is the best account I have ever read regarding the US unmanned space program from the early space race through the Apollo era. The book provides fine accounts of the people and technology involved in the unmanned program, particularly the contributions of the scientists at JPL. I'm awestruck at the technology invented by these scientists and their scientific discoveries. The JPL was often ignored in the shadow of the more popular manned space program. Moreover, I believe the discoveries discussed in "Moon Hunters" contribute more to space science than the manned space program. The book is easy to read and has extremely intersting information about the planets and moons of our Solar System. Perhaps more remarkable is how the JPL scientists were able to navigate unmanned craft in deep space with such great accuracy to "visit" the many moons of the solar system.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Larry Karns on January 29, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is well worth reading if you're interested in space probes. (About half is Voyager related, for any Voyagerphiles out there.) Unfortunately the author deploys a gimmicky writing style that slowed my progress and kind of wore me down. Apparently he's some big-time Time magazine writer, so I suppose he's accustomed to writing for the masses. Definitely some interesting stuff that I hadn't read before though, and I would buy it again. Not sure how to describe the writing issue other than it being overdone. Maybe uses too many fake conversations that he reenacts with implausible detail.
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By Anthony Cagle on March 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Its intended audience is probably those who have an interest in space, without being true fanatics (I use that term in a good way), since a great deal of what is presented in the book probably would be well-known to the long-time enthusiast. It should also be enlightening for those who just wish to learn more about the early space program and some of the robot probes first sent to the outer solar system.
The book is arranged chronologically and begins with the Ranger program, which was intended to send probes crashing into our own moon. This may be a program readers under 30 or so will have very little knowledge of (this reviewer is slightly older than that and still had little working knowledge of it). This portion of the book is most effective in its descriptions of the personalities involved (again, most of whom most people have never heard of) and the long, tedious, error-prone process by which these things got off the ground and to their eventual destination. The descriptions of the various problems that caused the first Rangers to fail is enlightening and shows how difficult spaceflight was (and is) even when the mission is fairly simple. Also of particular interest is the effects of failure on programs and personnel; recent events regarding the shuttle fleet show that constant vigilance on quality and safety issues are a recurring, probably an intrinsic, problem within NASA and really any organization.
I would have liked more discussion on the followup Surveyor missions, but from that point focus shifts outwards to the outer planets, and Mars and Venus. The Voyager program is where the book hits its stride, describing the inception of the program and the tradeoffs that had to be made within congressional budget constraints.
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Format: Paperback
Kluger has tackled the task of covering the complete history of the exploration of the solar system's moons. In 320 pages Kluger has managed to fill a long standing gap in the historic documentation of space exploration. Beginning with the Ranger projects of the 1960's the author continues summarizing the major planetary/moon visits up until this time (2001). While, in so few pages, the book cannot delve into the level of technical and management detail that many would like to see, the author has done justice to the task in so few pages. Kluger has gone well beyond the usual abbreviated technical presentations found in NASA/JPL news releases.
This book should prove of great interest to engineers involved in space and ocean exploration where technical failure is a constant threat. Those who practice engineering understand that learning how things fail is as important as learning how things succeed and Kluger has shown several examples of the engineering difficulties and work arounds that led to the most far reaching and remarkable exploratory effort in human history. From a scientific perspective the author has done a nice job summarizing the scientific interests and expectations for the known moons in the solar system.
This book will prove to be a good one source reading for a concise summary of planetary exploration to this time.
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By Bruce Lilley on November 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
This was an excellent survey of the USA's unmanned missions to explore the solar system. Kluger wisely chose the Ranger program to delve into detail for the first American space program, and his description of the problems of getting a Ranger to the Moon and to fulfill its duty (the first six missions were failures) were a great way to highlight the later successes of the Viking, Mariner and especially, Voyager 1 and 2 missions to the outer planets. He gives an entertaining, if somewhat melodramatic, view of the science and human factors involved in developing space programs. The latter part of the book gives emphasis to the Voyager mission, a good choice to contrast with the early failures of Ranger.

It's not stated directly, but the book ultimately makes a great case for the further use of unmanned missions as the most cost-effective way to do scientific exploration in space, as opposed to the stunts of manned missions to the Moon and Mars. The present success of the Cassini mission to Saturn and the Spirit and Opportunity rovers on Mars is making the case stronger still, that unmanned missions are the way to go if you really want to do science in space.
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