File Size: 9209 KB
Print Length: 324 pages
Publisher: Dutton (February 24, 2015)
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Well done!, Very good book with a bit of history incorporated., The Interstellar Age is not a book about technology by itself, but it is a book about exploration and wonder. This is a fairly easy to read 3 hundred page work that requires the reader on a so-called Grand Tour of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and beyond.
Author Bell is plainly a disciple of Carl Sagan, and this is reflected in the optimistic style of the book. Bell weaves autobiographical elements into the fabric of the 40 year tale of the double Voyager spacecraft, and this individual also presents insight into some of the key people who formed the Voyager team. Even better, Bell provides vignettes which provide us with pertinent historical backgrounds that helped create our own modern viewpoints.
Having just finished the book, I am in awe of the incredible creative imagination and precision that launched - and still maintains - the two Voyagers as they travel billions of miles far from Earth. Bell has done a really nice job telling the reader, without preaching at us. Not saying the the author isn't opinionated, but he thankfully stays away from any hard-line stances. For example, Bell thinks that Pluto still should be considered a world and while he articulates his reasons, he won't dwell on it. As a layperson, I appreciate reasonably divergent views that engage my thoughts.
Many fascinating tidbits (like an 8-track tape device being aboard the spacecraft) are scattered throughout the chapters, and such tidbits often boggle the mind (truth should indeed be stranger than fiction). This core of information resonated with me, and once again delivered to life the amazing human achievement that the Voyager project represents.
Specific kudos must be given for several mentions of the Pasadena (California) based Planetary Society and the supporting role for room exploration. I first joined the Society back in 1980, although my registration lapsed too much in the intervening years, I was once again a happy member (and the author's acknowledgements made me even more proud).
The previous few chapters do participate in some science-talk, like discussion of solar gusts of wind, interstellar boundaries, and flat screen density. Don't be scared though because the author's conversational style and use of easy-to-understand examples makes everything appear clear.
If I had one negative to report, it would be that there are only eight pages of color plates present; the book could have easily supported more images.
Overall, I liked this book immensely and it has truly captured my imagination. Bell deals with to make the reader feel like a part of the Voyager extended family, including reunions, impressive achievements, and even several lucky breaks. And after all, on this particular Pale Azure Dot many people are family., This book plainly and effectively describes the Voyager I actually and II projects and the spaceships that are completing these trips. That starts with the information of the start of the projects and the rationale - for the only time in 175 years, the planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune will be lined upward to allow one complete by space craft.
Typically the Voyager space craft were launched in the past due 1970s and visited Jupiter and Saturn in the early and mid-1980s and Uranus and Neptune later in the decade. These types of were the space art that viewed the moons, Titan and Europa upward close, the first time, and journeyed close to the magnificent rings of Saturn for the first time. Uranus and Neptune were then frequented the first time also - all the time taking magnificent pictures of these planets and moons.
The trips of these robotic space travellers exposed up the eyes of mankind to the vastness of space and they are continuing their job as they leave the solar system and turn into interstellar travellers. Soon, we can not be able to hear from them, but they will continue to travel around the Universe for many years to come.
These are mankind's successful interstellar travellers., 'The Interstellar Age' is surely an account of the Voyager mission through the eyes of the author, Jim Bell. There is information in the book about Bell's schooling and early times in the planetary science field, and there is mention of many other people who were associated with the Voyager program. Typically the first few chapters are essentially a historical introduction to the project, as well as discussions of Bell's early days. Typically the middle of the guide investigates the Voyagers individual visits to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune (the latter two were only visited by Voyager 2). The last section covers the future of the program, now that over 25 years have exceeded since the last planetary encounter with Neptune.
All in all, the book is interesting, easily readable, and packed with a lot of great material about the Voyager program. But this is not a book which is simply about Voyager - rather, it is a book about this program through the eyes of mcdougal and there is a lot of autobiographical material included within the book. From time, I hoped there could be even more fine detail about what the Voyagers actually saw when they visited the planets. In addition, it felt like there was a great deal of material on the moons of the planets at the expense of the planetary material itself.
I'm not sure when there are other good books about the Voyager program out there, so this is a good option if you need to learn about the program. Despite the less than optimal coverage of the mission and perhaps over-reliance on the author's personal encounters, the book is worth the read.
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