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

4.0 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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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
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st Touchstone Ed 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: #2,704,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a pretty easy read about the history of Jet Propulsion Laboratory, especially the unmanned missions to the different moons in the solar system.

I couldn't put the book down when I started it. I loved the "behind the scenes" view into the workings of the JPL project teams, and how they dealt with failures as much as their successes. That and the way that each new discovery is described it gives a very differnent perspective on events you might have read about in a textbook or seen the standard pictures of a million times. I liked reading about the not so-well known events like the fact that Voyager 1 only went to Titan but was then sent outside the plane of the solar system due to the unique orbital encounter with Titan.

My only problem is that the copy of the book I had ended with the Galileo mission to Jupiter, the Cassini mission was still enroute. Would have liked to read more about the missions to Mars as well as Cassini and any future missions, such as DAWN, Deep Impact, etc..

Maybe time for a sequel?
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Format: Paperback
I've long been a fan of NASA's manned spaceflight missions but I've always neglected their planetary probe programs. Kluger's book is a very interesting and readable telling of the "other" side of NASA's space program.

This isn't an academic piece, it's intended for a general audience. So there's a lot of human-interest content that may not appeal to hardcore space enthusiasts. And Kluger makes a few glaring mistakes that are a little surprising for someone who cowrote Jim Lovell's book. But I highly recommend this to anybody who wants to know more about all those unmanned probes we've been sending out into the solar system (and ultimately beyond) for five decades.

I wish he'd revise the book to incude recent developments. He mentions the then-upcoming Cassini-Huygens mission to land on Titan, but now that's actually occurred it would be great for a new edition.
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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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Format: Paperback
The content is not bad, not technical enough, and, frankly, the book is definitly too short to cover those 60 moons. The main problem, IMHO, is that the text is cluttered with the most incredible collection of vain tentatives to make the story even more spectacular than it is by using all the literary tricks possible... boring, boring, boring.
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