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Customer Review

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not great literature, but a fun eyewitness account of a mission, May 4, 2011
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This review is from: Martian Summer: Robot Arms, Cowboy Spacemen, and My 90 Days with the Phoenix Mars Mission (Hardcover)
Having been involved in some early testing of instrumentation on the Phoenix lander
and knowing many of the participants personally, I was eager to read this account
of the landed operations, although like the mission itself, early results were
frustrating.

The book contains a number of factual errors (e.g. the Cassini camera was not the
first to use CCDs in space, the person referred to as a chief scientist for NASA
was not the NASA Chief Scientist, etc.) which reinforces the impression that the
author doesnt fully understand everything he writes about (an innocence the author
freely admits).

The color photo section is very poorly thought-out: images seemingly chosen at random
and often shown in an aspect ratio that leaves details invisibly small while leaving
60% of the page as white space.

I found the style a bit jarring - while informality is great, it can be overdone (the
author adds a presumably onomatopoeic 'pew pew pew' at just too many mentions of
the LIDAR). Lots of short sentences and paragraphs. In short, written more like a
blog than a book.

All the above aside, this really is a fascinating story of a mission unfolding, warts
and all. The interactions between scientists, and between scientists, engineers, managers
and the media, and the team's (and the author's) fight against fatigue while working
on Mars time, are shown in a first-hand, close quarters account, full of direct
quotes. I'd consider it essential reading for anyone planning a landed mission
on another world.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 6, 2012, 5:04:51 AM PDT
Shadow Wolf says:
This is a great review, Ralph.

Based on your observations of the errors in this books, are there other books that cover this topic in an accessible manner for a lay person, yet is free of so many errors?
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