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Dreams of Other Worlds: The Amazing Story of Unmanned Space Exploration

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  • Posted September 20, 2013

    Are you a space enthusiast? If you are, then this book is for yo

    Are you a space enthusiast? If you are, then this book is for you. Authors Chris Impey and Holly Henry, have written an outstanding book that captures the story in detail of unmanned space exploration and discoveries over the past forty years.

    The authors begin by taking a close look at the Viking landers that touched down on Mars on July 20, 1976. Next, they cover the two rovers: Spirit and Opportunity, which have been exploring Mars since their landing on January 3, 2004. Then, the authors track the two most distant human artifacts: Voyager 1 and 2, as they sail out of our solar system into the void of space. In addition, they examine a six-ton spacecraft called Cassini, which was launched in October 1997, to begin its billion-mile journey to explore Saturn and its rings. Also, the authors visualize how the Stardust spacecraft (which was launched on February 7, 1999) captured material from comet Wild 2, in the most ambitious NASA mission ever undertaken. They continue, by showing you how the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft (which was launched on December 2, 1995) measures the location, intensity, and spectrum of either high-energy X-ray and ultraviolet radiation or cosmic rays. Next, the authors discuss how the Hipparcos mission can be used as a tool to help astronomers map plausible sites for extraterrestrial life; as well as, accurately map the location, velocity, and vector of stars in our galaxy, so that we can understand the age and morphology of the Milky Way; how our galaxy has evolved in the past; and, what the future holds for our Solar System and the galaxy. Then, they examine NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, and its remarkable ability to see through interstellar dust; and, into the vast clouds in which stars are born, like those of the Orion Nebula (our nearest star-forming region). In addition, the authors explain how the Chandra X-ray Observatory (CXO) has helped X-ray astronomers gain several orders of magnitude of sensitivity, and the ability to make images as sharp as a medium-size optical telescope. Also, they discuss how the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has contributed to the identification of exoplanets, the dark energy that permeates the universe, and massive black holes that lurk in nearby galaxies. The authors continue by showing you how the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotrophy Probe (WMAP) was conceived as a way of pushing to a new level of precision and a new set of tests of the big bang theory. Finally, they discuss the near future, and the efforts to measure the realms of the universe that are currently at the edge of our vision.

    This excellent book explores how our concepts of distant worlds have been shaped and informed by space science and astronomy in the past forty years. Rather, this great book is an exploration of twelve iconic space missions that have opened new windows onto distant worlds.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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