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

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ISBN-13: 978-0465055982
ISBN-10: 0465055982
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Red Rover: Inside the Story of Robotic Space Exploration, from Genesis to the Mars Rover Curiosity + Destination Mars: New Explorations of the Red Planet
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Launched in late November 2011, the Curiosity rover was the most expensive, elaborate robotic device to touch the Martian surface since NASA began sending landers to the Red Planet in 1975 with Viking I. When Curiosity booted up its onboard equipment last August, one of the instruments used to analyze rock and soil samples was the ChemCam, a laser-zapping device built by Los Alamos geochemist Wiens. Here Wiens uses his involvement with this latest Martian venture as a springboard for an engaging history of robotic space exploration from the Genesis project that initiated his career to the unique problems he and his team faced with the one ton, jeep-sized Curiosity. Along with fascinating anecdotes about the bureaucratic challenges and equipment snafus he needed to overcome to get ChemCam loaded onto the rover, Wiens also describes the feats of engineering that produced Genesis in 2004, a probe designed to capture solar wind. A remarkable memoir and testament to the ingenuity of the space program’s many scientists who build the tools needed to explore our solar system. --Carl Hays

Review

Washington Post
“[Wiens] is a good guide through the process of building a space probe.... His inside narration of how things go wrong at NASA is the great strength of this book. It is rich with details of how both the ChemCam team in particular and the Curiosity rover in general overcame engineering challenges such as faulty lenses and awkward temperature distributions.”

BBC Sky At Night
“This engaging new book by Roger Wiens whose team built Curiosity’s ChemCam instrument, gives a unique insider’s view… Wiens’s accessible and conversational writing is a major strength of Red Rover, providing a thoroughly human perspective on a complex technological subject.”

Booklist
“An engaging history of robotic space exploration.... A remarkable memoir and testament to the ingenuity of the space program’s many scientists who build the tools needed to explore our solar system.”

Scientific American
“Wiens offers a backstage tour of the delights and disappointments of working on missions."

Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly
“Wiens’s writing is clear and engaging.... A unique contribution.... This book reinforces a vision of outer space as emblematic of technological progress, but also nicely encapsulates the external, messy factors that influence, hinder, and help the development of a robotic explorer.”

Publishers Weekly
“This entertaining insider account of Wiens’s work on two groundbreaking robotic space explorers — the Genesis and Curiosity Rover — captures all the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of modern space science.... Wiens brings his work to life, candidly addressing the inevitable technological and bureaucratic obstacles and failures that compose the frustrating prelude to scientific victory.”

Kirkus Reviews
“The author provides fascinating insight into the struggle to solve scientific problems despite technical constraints and equipment failures.... A winning memoir of great achievement.”

Steve Squyres, Professor of Astronomy, Cornell University, and author of Roving Mars
“We live in a new golden age of exploration, as robotic spacecraft fan out across the solar system, extending the human experience to other planets. With Red Rover, Roger Wiens provides a delightful, candid, and highly personal insider’s view of this great endeavor.”

Jim Bell, Professor of Planetary Science, Arizona State University, President of the Planetary Society, and author of Postcards from Mars
“Roger Wiens has crafted a delightful and very personal history of planetary exploration that takes us from his boyhood fascination with the Apollo Moon missions to his leading role as a key scientist on the latest Mars rover. His journey from a small prairie town to the laser labs of Los Alamos reminds us that passion, imagination, and perseverance are what propel us to explore the frontiers of space.”

John L. Phillips, retired NASA astronaut, and former NASA Chair Professor, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School
Red Rover offers an enticing personal look at the exaltations and disappointments of unmanned space exploration. Roger Wiens vividly portrays the genius and perseverance of the dedicated scientists and engineers who have made robotic exploration of the solar system a reality.”

Laurie Leshin, Dean, School of Science, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
“In Red Rover, Roger Wiens gets you up close and personal with the highs and lows, the triumphs and disappointments that come with pushing the scientific envelope, and the great persistence required to succeed. A great read for anyone interested in exploring the frontiers of space.”

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (March 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465055982
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465055982
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #718,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Bob Buddy on March 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a frustratingly mixed bag. It has lots of really interesting tech info, including Curiosity's ChemCam, the laser-spectroscope that zaps rocks and reads their composition. But I was expecting diagrams and other pictorial aids and there are none. All text, with just 4 glossy color pages of publicity shots. And mixed in with the good stuff is the endless politics and budget issues at NASA, maybe interesting to bureaucrats, but quickly tiresome to most readers.

That said, stick with it and you will learn fascinating facts about the rovers and other robotic missions that few know.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rick B on April 17, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
From begining to the end of the book, recent space history is presented in a impressive and easy to read format. Mars is in reach and present in this remarkable read. You can see the evolution of new ideas the led to the current ChemCam instrument from the previous Genesis probe that captured the early history of the sun. Now we have a SUV size probe Curiosity on Mars making it's own history while revealing the Martion past through geological analysis using the laser ChemCam tools. The author has personalized his experiences in this entire process, from family life to endless hours of designing, testing, and waiting to see if thier project whould be choosen by NASA for a real space flight. Every part of the emotional spectrum is presented and the the human spirit is lifted to literally new heights. Roger Wiens has again reached new heights both on paper and on Mars.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. Mulford on March 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I love all types of science books. This book however illuminated the practical application of science and gave a behind the scenes look at NASA and space exploration. It is well written and worthy of your time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jerry T. Searcy on March 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I never realized that getting these incredible machines to the surface of other worlds required so many twist, turns and just plain luck. I naively thought NASA gathered engineers and scientist into a room, decided the details of the machine, built it, launched it and the rest became history...boy was I wrong! A wonderful read!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By GA Lindsay on November 4, 2013
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Very informative. Well-written. Author has hands-on personal experience with the program. Lot's of interesting historical perspectives. Roger Wiens shares a lifetime of knowledge.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By AEJones on October 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Keeping up with our space program is a hobby of mine, so I was already familiar with the Mars Science Laboratory mission and the rover "Curiosity" when a friend pointed out this book to me. The story of how the mast-mounted Chemcam came to be included on Curiosity's stable of scientific instruments was riveting. I was really impressed with Dr. Weins' commitment and stamina over the years required to conceive, develop and make Chemcam rugged and reliable enough for work on Mars. Some good luck was involved too; at certain points, his group was about to run out of funds just as a new source became available. My hat goes off to Dr. Weins and to all others who developed the instruments that have made Curiosity the success it is. This is a well-written book that should be read by anyone interested in our space program.
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Red Rover: Inside the Story of Robotic Space Exploration, from Genesis to the Mars Rover Curiosity
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