The Interstellar Age
Inside the Forty-year Voyager MissionBook - 2015
The story of the men and women who devoted their lives to the Voyager Spacecraft mission.
The twin Voyager spacecraft are our farthest-flung emissaries, 11.3 billion miles away from the crew who built and still operate them, decades since their launch. Their fantastic journey began back in the '70s - before the first episode of Carl Sagan's legendary television series, Cosmos , aired. The mission was planned as a grand tour beyond the moon; beyond Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn; and maybe even beyond our solar system. The fact that it actually happened, that the Voyagers , after making numerous discoveries and capturing astoundingly clear images of the outer planets and moons, are now entering interstellar space and still sending signals back, makes this humanity's greatest mission of exploration ever.
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 laboratory; 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 an array of expert astrophysicists, geologists, and technicians, as well as not-yet-expert undergraduate and graduate students.
Speeding through space at a mind-bending eleven miles a second, the Voyagers are now beyond our sun's planets. They carry with them artifacts of human civilization. By the time one of them passes its first star in about 40,000 years - and indeed for 100 million years after that - the gold record on each spacecraft, containing music and images, including Chuck Berry's 'Johnny B. Goode,' Bach's Brandenburg Concerto, and an Azerbaijani bagpipe tune, will still be playable. Maybe a passing alien who can follow the instructions regarding how to play this ultimate 'concept album' will listen in - or maybe it will be some future explorers from Earth who overtake our very first interstellar voyagers.
In any case, thanks to Jim Bell, now is the time to enjoy a ride far beyond any that humans have previously made.
Praise for The Interstellar Age
'In The Interstellar Age , Professor Jim Bell celebrates Voyager - NASA's most famous space probe. In this task, Bell not only shines as a leading planetary scientist, but you get the sneaky feeling he knew the probe personally, serving in this case as Voyager's personal biographer to the benefit of us all.' Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of Cosmos- A Spacetime Odyssey and author of Space Chronicles- Facing the Ultimate Frontier
'Come along with Dr. Bell on an extraordinary adventure. He loves to travel. He relishes a long voyage. He doesn't mind leaving home forever and never coming back. If it involved a once-in-a-lifetime journey through the cold emptiness of space, so much the better, as long as the ports of call are planets - up close and personal. These voyages changed what we know of the cosmos and our place within it. Jim Bell's story will change you, too.' Bill Nye, CEO of the Planetary Society and author of Undeniable
' The Interstellar Age is dawning, and this book recounts the saga of humanity's greatest solar system exploration on the way out. Part scientific autobiography, part top-notch science writing, Jim Bell's book is a welcome addition to the history of the Voyager missions.' Jon Lomberg, cocreator of Murmurs of Earth- The Voyager Interstellar Record
'Everyone loves Voyager , and every few years the plucky spacecraft give us yet another reason to remind