Inside the Story of Robotic Space Exploration, from Genesis to the Mars Rover Curiosity
by Roger Wiens
This summer we will be one step closer to finding the answer. On August 5th, Curiosity-a one-ton, Mini Cooper-sized nuclear-powered rover-is scheduled to land on Mars, with the primary mission of determining whether the red planet has ever been physically capable of supporting life. In Getting to Mars, Roger Wiens, the principal investigator for the ChemCam instrument on the rover-the main tool for measuring Mars’s past habitability-will tell the unlikely story of the development of this payload and rover now blasting towards a planet 354 million miles from Earth.
ChemCam (short for Chemistry and Camera) is an instrument onboard the Curiosity designed to vaporize and measure the chemical makeup of Martian rocks. Different elements give off uniquely colored light when zapped with a laser; the light is then read by the instrument’s spectrometer and identified. The idea is to use ChemCam to detect life-supporting elements such as carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen to evaluate whether conditions on Mars have ever been favorable for microbial life.
This is not only an inside story about sending fantastic lasers to Mars, however. It’s the story of a new era in space exploration. Starting with NASA’s introduction of the Discovery Program in 1992, smaller, scrappier, more nimble missions won out as behemoth manned projects went extinct. This strategic shift presented huge opportunities-but also presented huge risks for shutdown and failure. And as Wiens recounts, his project came close to being closed down on numerous occasions. Getting to Mars is the inspiring account of how Wiens and his team overcame incredible challenges-logistical, financial, and political-to successfully launch a rover in an effort to answer the eternal question: is there life on Mars?
Ratings and Reviews
Be the first to rate and review this book!
You've already shared your review for this item. Thanks!
We are currently reviewing your submission. Thanks!
by Roger Wiens
Share your thoughts
Tell readers what you thought by rating and reviewing this book.
Rate it *
Please make sure to choose a rating
Add a review* Required
How to write a great review
- Say what you liked best and least
- Describe the author's style
- Explain the rating you gave
- Use rude and profane language
- Include any personal information
- Mention spoilers or the book's price
- Recap the plot
(0) 50 characters minimum
The review must be at least 50 characters long.
The title should be at least 4 characters long.
Display Name *
Your display name should be at least 2 characters long.
Report a review
Would you like us to take another look at this review?
You've successfully reported this review. We appreciate your feedback.
by Roger Wiens
Thanks for Sharing!
by on October 22, 2016
- Basic Books, March 2013
- Download options:
- EPUB 2 (Adobe DRM)
You can read this item using any of the following Kobo apps and devices: