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To a Rocky Moon: A Geologist's History of Lunar Exploration Paperback – December 1, 1993
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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The book has a fair number of illustrations, but it could have benefitted from a few more (for example the craters Sabine and Ritter are mentioned several times but there is no photo). However, it is easy enough to find pictures or videos of the subjects discussed on the internet (which was not the case when the book was written in 1993).
I had read Andrew Chaikin's "A Man on the Moon" immediately before reading this one. It is told primarily from the perspective of the astronauts, and the two books compliment each other very well.
This is certainly the most detailed personal account of lunar science during the Apollo program, and should be read in tandem with Donald A. Beattie's "Taking Science to the Moon: Lunar Experiments and the Apollo Program" (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001).
The book opens with several chapters that describe the early telescopic observations of the moon and the competing theories explaining the moon origins. Specifically, there was the cold formation/capture theory and the hot formation/formed with Earth theory. After this thorough explanation of the development of these theories, the author covers the early robotic exploration of the moon conducted by the Ranger, Surveyor and Lunar Orbiter probes. From these missions, it was determined that the majority of the Moon's craters were probably created by meteoroid impact. Within these sections, the author also describes the landing site selection process.
Except for the concluding section and appendices, the remainder of the book (approximately 50%) covers in detail, the geological exploration conducted by the astronauts at each landing site and the results obtained. Since the early flights to the moon, Apollos 11, 12 and 14, were shorts stay, the book emphasizes the extensive geological exploration conducted by the Apollos 15, 16 and 17 missions. These missions included an electrically powered car, which greatly extended the areas of the moon that the astronauts could explore. These final missions were also supported in real time by a scientific support room staffed with many highly skilled geologists that helped to direct the astronauts during sample collection.
I found this book to be highly enjoyable and its covers an aspect of the Apollo program that is usually not covered in great detail. That is, the people behind the scenes who helped make this project the great success that it was. On the flip side, some readers may find the book a bit too technical, especially with all the geological terms and the small amount of the supporting diagrams and figures.