on August 30, 2012
You won't learn much about Mars from reading this book - or much about the exploration of Mars, although the last chapter does quickly review some of the highlights of Mars missions of the past decade, while Hubbard was "Mars Czar." Most of the book is a fairly tedious review of Hubbard's activities navigating the bureaucracy of NASA and Congress, including endless meetings and negotiations. That said, Mars missions have been quite successful under Hubbard's leadership, so those interested in the details of how things get done in Washington might find the book of interest.
on September 30, 2012
Scott Hubbard has written a very comprehensive and readable book that chronicles over a decade of discovery. Whether you have always been interested in NASA's space program or are a newbie who is enthralled with the Mars Science Laboratory and its phenomenal Rovers, you will find something fascinating in every chapter. The launch and landing of the Mars Rovers always makes headlines, but the back story is as interesting, if not more so.
Scott Hubbard was asked to restructure NASA's Mars Program in 2000 after some very public and costly failures. His responsibilities encompassed both the technical program and navigating the political waters in Washington, DC. Budget considerations are always front and center, and at the same time the technical and engineering decisions must be those that ensure the missions success. Hubbard who had served as director of NASA's Ames Research Center, and set up NASA's Astrobiology Institute, became known as the Mars Czar, and the expectations of turning the Mars project from failure to success were huge.
From it's earliest days, sample return from The Red Planet was a goal, but enormous effort was first needed to determine the best sites for a sampling return mission. Earth and Mars must be in the right alignment for a launch approximately every 26 months, so if things go wrong with a mission, a two year wait for the next one is hard for Washington to live with, especially given NASA's budget, which has been constantly diminished, while at the same time, the work that goes into science, engineering, rocketry, computer programs, communication equipment, robotics, and remote operations cannot be less than absolute! Orbiters, which get little media coverage must be able to perform flawlessly as well.
Hubbard's responsibilities encompassed the world of national and international space policies and endeavors, and he chronicles international trips to ensure the vital cooperation with the European Space Agency and others in Russia and Japan among others.
Professor Hubbard's book brings together a history of NASA's Mars program, its many accomplishments that led up to the most recent launch of the rover, Curiosity, and he projects the goals and timelines for future exploration to help us answer the question, "Are we Alone?". An extraordinary book, with a timeline of the New Mars Probgram that Hubbard oversaw, figures and photos, some color illustrations, and a formidable list of abbreviations.
Although I was initially disappointed that a Kindle edition is not yet available, I am very happy to have the hardcover edition as I will best be able to show and discuss it with others who have an interest in Mars.
on October 15, 2012
Hubbard's book really picks apart a moment in history that almost snuck by without most of us noticing: That moment when American space exploration efforts were snatched from the jaws of defeat with no time to spare. For many of us who grew up gazing at the stars and dreaming of a space-faring future, the seeming self-destruction of NASA - and especially the pair of Mars mission disasters in the late 90s - looked like the end. But thanks to people like Scott Hubbard, the end didn't come.
This book - which is a fantastic read for anyone interested in Mars or space exploration in general - tells the step-by-step story of a brilliant (and almost blindly optimistic) scientist who stepped up to rescue NASA's Mars program, and maybe even NASA as a whole. Virtually everyone on Earth watched as the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity sent back amazing pictures and data from a mission that succeeded beyond anyone's wildest dreams. And the entire world held it's breath as the Curiosity rover set down in August of 2012 in a terrifying and picture-perfect landing. These are some of the missions that are the fruit of Scott Hubbard's labor as NASA's "Mars Czar." And these are the missions that have recaptured humanity's interest in Mars and in space exploration as a whole.
"Exploring Mars" pulls back the curtain on NASA's process. It shows how one articulate and persistent person can build consensus, change cultural behaviors and make huge things happen. Important things. And these things - traveling to and landing on another planet - are about as difficult as it gets.
Needless to say, I loved this book. It reawakened my belief in our ability to continue exploring space. And it's simply a great story. If you want to know exactly how we go to Mars and WHY we go to Mars, check it out. In fact, check it out if you just want to be reminded of the amazing things humans can do when they focus, put petty issues aside, and work together.
on May 26, 2013
Dr. Hubbard is a great inspiration for younger generations for the work, passion, and the out-of-this-world goals he has accomplished. If you want to know how to create the project of your dreams, what are the challenges you will encounter, what are steps you will need to take to achieve, buy the book now.
on October 24, 2012
The real backstory behind the rocky road to Mars. Hubbard shows how the politics of funding Mars exploration, even when everybody and his brother wants to do it, can be a challenging and even daunting proposition.
As the Mars Czar, he set the way forward for the way we go to Mars even today, as well as guiding the science objectives of each mission.
The most thorough discussion of NASA's long and continuing trek to our nearest nieghbor. Great read!