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Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto Hardcover – May 1, 2018
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“Stern and Grinspoon’s record of this epic project is thoroughly captivating… Suffused with serpentine theatrics and scientific wonder, this is a consistently compelling, top-notch documentation of intrepid planetary exploration.”
―Kirkus *STARRED REVIEW*
“Riveting… a fascinating David versus Goliath story… Even though we know the final outcome, the story continues to be a nail-biter… The two authors, with their insider’s perspective, capture the arduous process with great narrative verve.”
―Marcia Bartusiak, The Wall Street Journal
“A remarkable new book… told in exhilarating prose that moves this incredible narrative briskly without getting mired in the tall weeds of technical jargon…. Stern and Grinspoon take you on an uplifting, exhilarating, fascinating journey, all without leaving the comfort and oxygen of our planet.”
―Scott Stantis, Chicago Tribune
“An exhilarating trek into the ‘wild black yonder’.”
―Barbara Kiser, Nature
“A space and science book that reads more like a thriller.”
―Andrew Dansby, Houston Chronicle
“Riveting… destined to become a classic of popular science.”
―Publishers Weekly “Best Summer Books 2018”
“A thrilling ride.”
―Jane Ciabattari, BBC.COM “10 Books to Read in May”
―Laurel Kornfeld, Spaceflight Insider
“Armchair space explorers and budding scientists will relish this inspiring aerospace adventure.”
―Donna Marie Smith, Library Journal
“Fascinating… Stern and Grinspoon’s account will appeal to space buffs and every fan of high-quality science writing.”
―Carl Hays, Booklist
“It’s a tale about space science, yes, but it’s also a reminder of what can happen when you refuse to let dreams die.”
―Corey S. Powell, DiscoverMagazine.com
“Terrific new book about a terrific spacecraft flying a terrific mission! Kudos to @AlanStern, the man who gave us back Pluto.”
―Jeffrey Kluger (on Twitter, April 25, 2018)
―Brendan Byrne, host of Are We There Yet? Podcast
“The two writers know their stuff: Stern is the principal investigator who led the New Horizon’s team to Pluto, and he is considered a veritable force of nature within the planetary science community. Grinspoon may well be the most talented science writer this side of his friend and mentor, the late Carl Sagan…. With an exciting narrative, loads of planetary astronomy, a heaping helping of exploration and discovery, and a happy ending, the book seems destined to be a classic.”
―Steven Andrew, Daily Kos
“Chasing New Horizons, using a thriller-writer’s you-are-there narrative style, takes readers on the adventure of Alan Stern’s and his remarkable team’s lifetimes… Chasing New Horizons would be a ‘great read’ if it were fiction. But as a true story, it is impossible to resist. From the Preface to the ‘Final Discovery’ of the Coda and through the Top-Ten Science Discoveries list in the Appendix, this is a book for science readers to savor.”
―Fred Bortz, The Science Shelf
“A truly prodigious book by @AlanStern & David Grinspoon humankind's first voyage to Pluto. Strongly, even urgently recommended.”
―Homer Hickam, author of October Sky (on Twitter April 30, 2018)
“A fascinating story of the advances, setbacks, and eventual triumph of a decades-long effort to complete the initial reconnaissance of the solar system.”
―Jeff Foust, The Space Review
“I have read the book twice… It’s a thought-provoking and well-written story of the behind-the-scenes action that brought the spacecraft to life…. Chasing New Horizons presents a lot of insight into what it’s like to be on a spacecraft mission. Those revelations delighted me to no end…. The book belongs on your bookshelf. Read it often. Appreciate what it is our fellow citizens have done to bring Pluto and the Kuiper Belt into our view.”
―C.C. Petersen, TheSpacewriter.com
―Randy Showstack, EOS.com
“[Chasing New Horizons] delivers an in-depth view of how to design a space mission, shepherd it through the hurdles of approval and design, and send it toward the unknown when you have just one shot to get it right.”
―Sarah Lewin, Space.com
―Astronomy Magazine Podcast
“Even if you followed the [Pluto] flyby closely and think you know this story, the book divulges details that will surprise you. Come for the sweeping tale of wonder and exploration; stay for the gaggle of planetary scientists celebrating on Bourbon Street once their mission finally got the green light.”
―Lisa Grossman, Science News
About the Author
DR. ALAN STERN is principal investigator of the New Horizons mission, leading NASA’s exploration of the Pluto system and the Kuiper Belt. A planetary scientist, space-program executive, aerospace consultant, and author, he has participated in over two dozen scientific space missions and has been involved at the highest levels in several aspects of American space exploration. Dr. Stern is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2016 Carl Sagan Memorial Award of the American Astronautical Society, and has twice been named to the Time 100. He lives in Colorado.
DR. DAVID GRINSPOON is an astrobiologist, award-winning science communicator, and prize-winning author. In 2013 he was appointed the inaugural chair of astrobiology at the Library of Congress. He is a frequent advisor to NASA on space-exploration strategy, and is on the science teams for several interplanetary spacecraft missions. Grinspoon's previous books include Earth in Human Hands (2016) and his writing has appeared inThe New York Times, Slate, Scientific American, Los Angeles Times, and others. He lives in Washington, DC.
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The interesting parts don't end after the probe finally launches, either. While I was sitting around back from 2006-2015 occasionally thinking about New Horizons coasting to Pluto and wondering if the team was getting bored during the downtime, it turns out that the team still had a ton of work to do in planning the nitty-gritty details of the flyby. And even then, they kept getting thrown curve balls! The fun of this book is really in seeing just how stacked against the New Horizons team the odds were, and how they succeeded in spite of it all. What do you do when you have a probe racing towards a planet, you've spent years programming and testing an elaborate observation plan for what the probe is going to do when it gets there, and then suddenly you discover two new moons orbiting your target planet? Are you going to hit those moons? How are you going to re-write the observation plan to get data on them? These are the things Chasing New Horizons covers, and even knowing that it all works out in the end, the authors' candid storytelling of how dicey things got at times really makes this a good read that holds your attention all the way through. This is no dry and technical spaceflight book. This is an adventure across the solar system that ran up against countless potential catastrophes and through human ingenuity managed to overcome the odds and bring us our first detailed view of Pluto and its moons.
The emphasis of the story here really is the human side: the team, the leaders, the problems, the conflicts, and the puzzling out of the crazy history of Pluto. The science is the motivation for it all, but this is not a book about the science -- it's about the people, and how they pulled off this mission.
Seriously buy this book!
I attended a book tour lecture by the authors at Foothill College in the Bay Area, which energized me to buy a few copies of the book. It's very inspirational and highly recommended.
Not just for wonks and nerds. Alan Stern and David Grinspoon relate the compelling drama in a way that all readers can enjoy.