The story of the men and women who drove the Voyager spacecraft mission, told by a scientist who was there from the beginning.
The Voyager spacecraft are our farthest-flung emissaries--11.3 billion miles away from the crew who built and still operate them decades after their launch.
Voyager 1 left the solar system in 2012; its sister craft, Voyager 2, will do so in 2015. The fantastic journey began in 1977, before the first episode of Cosmos aired. The mission was planned as a grand tour beyond the moon; beyond Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn; and maybe even into interstellar space. The fact that it actually happened makes this humanity's greatest space mission.
In The Interstellar Age, award-winning planetary scientist Jim Bell reveals what drove and continues to drive the members of this extraordinary team, including Ed Stone, Voyager's chief scientist and the one-time head of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab; Charley Kohlhase, an orbital dynamics engineer who helped to design many of the critical slingshot maneuvers around planets that enabled the Voyagers to travel so far; and the geologist whose earthbound experience would prove of little help in interpreting the strange new landscapes revealed in the Voyagers' astoundingly clear images of moons and planets.
Speeding through space at a mind-bending 11 miles a second, Voyager 1 is now beyond our solar system's planets. It carries with it artifacts of human civilization. By the time Voyager 1 passes its first star in about 40,000 years, the gold record on the spacecraft, containing various music and images, including Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode," will still be playable.
©2015 Jim Bell (P)2015 Penguin Audio
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"Exciting, Inspiring, and interesting."
Exciting, Inspiring, and interesting! I've read SF for years... It was a lot of fun to listen to real science being done by real people, and see how SF writers could be inspired by it. I was born in 84, so most of what the Voyager missions accomplished were before my time, but the fact that we're still learning from them even today made me feel a part of the excitement and awe. Jim Bell's passion is obvious in this narrative, and him reading made it that much better. I'll be re-listening soon.
"Very interesting, not too technical."
The author does a great job of explaining the subject in detail without turning the text into a rocket science technical manual. There are pieces of the personal stories which were very interesting that I wish had been expanded more but it was overall still very good. Highly recommend for anyone even remotely interested in the subject of space exploration with a personal touch.
"What a great book!"
This book is exactly what it says it is. And then some. I loved hearing the stories from someone who was there, in the room when things were happening.
And it's read by the author, which I always like when there written from their point of view like this book. It's just like listening to them tell their story.
I am going to go listen to it again.
"Great read for a kid who watched astronauts......"
I liked this book a lot...I watched astronauts growing up in St.Louis as a kid, so space was always on our minds & still is...let's start exploring again!
"Exceeded Every Eexpectation"
Not only is The Interstellar Age very well written, it serves to inspire those who already have an interest in space exploration and the history of such missions to date. Jim is pleasant to listen to and the story, fortunately very linear, unfolds from one wonderful encounter to the next, never to disappoint. I found myself googling images taken from Voyager's I & II flyby of planets and moons. My imagination rekindled, as though I was ten years old all over again, the age I visited the Rueben Fleet space theater in San Diego to view the images of Uranus in almost real time. Half bored at the time because I had no access to information other than the images on the big screen. This book serves as a bridge to my younger self and helps to add meaning and closure to the desire to know more.
Thanks for a great book Jim. I will happily recommend it to friends in New and old Space.
This was a fascinating account of the Voyager missions. Jim Bell's description really brought to life the exciting discoveries made by those little robotic emissaries to the stars. The depictions of the flybys of the outer planets allows the reader to relive those amazing moments when we expanded our understanding of our solar system in great leaps and bounds. Highly recommended for any fans of space exploration.
"Great for fans of space exploration"
It was a fascinating story about the Voyager missions! The book follows the Voyagers as they pass each planet, and the story captures the sense of awe with each new discovery.
The book also goes on tangents about the different planets and later space missions that would visit them, which was fascinating, but makes the story lose focus.
Overall I would recommend it to anyone interested in space exploration!
"Wonderful personal journey through a space program"
This is an outstanding account of the Voyager missions through the solar system and through the lives of the many scientists and engineers that made it all happen. I was a bit surprised by the fact that this is nearly as much an autobiography as a history of Voyager, but Jim Bell writes well enough that it did not come off as a cry for attention, and indeed gave the book a very personal feel.
I have no doubt that every large space mission has an incredible story to tell, but Voyager was so far-reaching and has done so much that it deserves this treatment more than most. I highly recommend this book, and hope to find similar books about other missions (such as the Mars rovers - hint, hint, Dr. Bell!) in the future.
Amazing hearing first hand the ups and downs of the Voyagers. Those two little guys carry a piece of all of us. Good luck Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 you each have a message to deliver.
"Mostly esoteric, but fun"
Jim Bell is a planetary scientist, not an engineer, so the book mostly focuses on the discoveries made by the Voyager spacecraft rather than the laborious design and troubleshooting process involved in ensuring that the crafts survive and fulfill their objectives. Thus, one could contrast this with Rob Manning's book on the Curiosity rover (of which he is the chief engineer).
What the voyagers discovered was a lot of strange and alien geology, about which we are still largely ignorant owing to the great cost, diversified focus, and thus rare visits of/by subsequent missions. This is cool, per instance apparently different temperature regimes and local volatiles ensure a great variety of different volcanos in the solar system - those of water, methane, and ammonia.
These new worlds are very far away and are the focus of scant attention compared to Mars. Since voyager, we haven't even gone to Uranus or Neptune with probes. It will be a long time before people travel to them, if they ever do, so learning about them is sort of reminiscent of science fiction.
The most significant near-term influence they could have on our culture is if life were discovered on Enceladus or Europa or Titan or another of the numerous candidate worlds. But without an increase in budgets or a decrease in costs, it seems unlikely we will do in depth surveys any time soon.
Aside from that, there are also pretensions to communicating with aliens via the famed golden discs that are virtually immortal. Bell thinks we are more likely to recover the discs than are aliens, and i'm inclined to agree.
One of the greatest achievements of the Voyagers is that they, objects from the 70s that are over 10 billion miles away, are still functioning.
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