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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 . . .

The 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.

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 Earth-bound experience would prove of little help in interpreting the strange new landscapes revealed in theVoyagers' astoundingly clear images of moons and planets.

Speeding through space at a mind-bending eleven 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 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.

Praise for The Interstellar Age 

'Comprehensive and engrossing . . . charming.' The Wall Street Journal
 
'Is there any intelligent life out there in the cosmos? And if so, are they into Chuck Berry?  Thanks to the Voyager space probes, launched in 1977, we may find out.' New York Post 

'Part memoir, part anecdotal history and part sermon on the delights of science, The Interstellar Age is a captivating read.' Nature

'Bell (The Space Book), president of the Planetary Society, delivers a lucid account of the magnificent scientific accomplishments of the Voyager Missions with a cheerfulness that it deserves.' Publishers Weekly

Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9781101983898

    March 1, 2016

    Dutton (US Adult)

    336 pages

    RRP $27.99

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