Cornell University scientist Squyres is the principal investigator on the Mars missions that landed the rovers Spirit and Opportunity in January 2004. Expected to operate for only a few weeks, they are still going strong a year and a half later. But as Squyres recounts, their development was plagued with problems, and shortly before the launch of Spirit, it looked like the missions might be scrubbed; the giant landing airbags had failed in test after test. Spirit has endured a communications breakdown and a troublesome rear wheel, but Opportunity quickly found geological evidence for the existence of water millions of years ago. Squyres relates the toll that monitoring the rovers took on his colleagues. The Martian day is 39 minutes longer than a day on Earth, so the team had to reset their watches and their internal clocks to work, eat and sleep like Martians. Squyres communicates the excitement and the anxieties involved in a project of this magnitude, steering clear of technical jargon, though more casual science buffs might want to fast-forward occasionally in early chapters packed with detail on the ins and outs of NASA's approval process for proposals and institutional politicking. 16 pages of color illus. not seen by PW.
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NASA's two rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, which are currently driving around Mars, have been astoundingly successful; but as Squyres recounts, they came close to staying earthbound. Buffeted by budgetary and technical problems, the rover missions received the green light only in 2001, giving the engineers and scientists just two years to get ready for a 2003 launch. The resulting freneticism of prelaunch preparation permeates Squyres' blow-by-blow narration of his work, which concentrated on several instruments. A geologist designated as the lead scientist for the missions, Squyres had to negotiate with engineers to fit his stuff on their spacecraft--a fundamental antagonism in the space--exploration business. In fact, Squyres bluntly states he distrusted the lead engineer, Peter Theisinger. The working out of their differences, amid other examples of mollification between engineers and scientists, depicts the daily human drama (from Squyres' viewpoint) of diagnosing and solving technical problems, an angle that ought to augment the author's base readership of space-program fans. Couched in conversational prose, Squyres' enthusiasm for exploring Mars shines brightly. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
This is a important work about the two rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Steve Squyres gives an honest assessment of what it took to get to Mars and even admits Gusev may have been... Read morePublished 3 months ago by RedHeadEd
This is a great book because it is easy to read and interesting for a technical topic. Recommended.Published 4 months ago by jjsharkbait
Great book on the science and engineering of what it takes to get something to Mars. Fantastic!Published 5 months ago by schism76
By virtue of his role as PI for this mission, it's evident that Steve Squyres must be an accomplished scientist who is also highly skilled in engineering, program management,... Read morePublished 6 months ago by J. D. Maloy
Who thought that the description of scientific research over a period of years would be so exciting. I had trouble putting it down. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Annette Warden
Squyres makes the history of the Mars rover read like an exciting novel!
Having only seen the national news coverage, the rovers seemed like an easy, done deal. Read more
This book tells how complicated and involved is the process of getting a mission into space and shares some of the excitement and passion behind the work and the discoveries Spirit... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Bing
By the time 2003 rolled around, unmanned exploration of the surface of Mars had stalled.
Mars Climate Orbiter had misfired burning up in Mars' atmosphere. Read more