Strange New Worlds provides an insider's look at the cutting-edge science of today's planet hunters, our prospects for discovering alien life, and the debates and controversies at the forefront of extrasolar-planet research.
In a new afterword, Jayawardhana explains some of the most recent developments as we search for the first clues of life on other planets.
On July 14, 2015, something amazing happened. More than 3 billion miles from Earth, a small NASA spacecraft called New Horizons screamed past Pluto at more than 32,000 miles per hour, focusing its instruments on the long mysterious icy worlds of the Pluto system, and then, just as quickly, continued on its journey out into the beyond.
Nothing like this has occurred in a generation—a raw exploration of new worlds unparalleled since NASA’s Voyager missions to Uranus and Neptune—and nothing quite like it is planned to happen ever again. The photos that New Horizons sent back to Earth graced the front pages of newspapers on all 7 continents, and NASA’s website for the mission received more than 2 billion hits in the days surrounding the flyby. At a time when so many think that our most historic achievements are in the past, the most distant planetary exploration ever attempted not only succeeded in 2015 but made history and captured the world’s imagination.
How did this happen? Chasing New Horizons is the story of the men and women behind this amazing mission: of their decades-long commitment and persistence; of the political fights within and outside of NASA; of the sheer human ingenuity it took to design, build, and fly the mission; and of the plans for New Horizons’ next encounter, 1 billion miles past Pluto in 2019. Told from the insider’s perspective of mission leader Dr. Alan Stern and others on New Horizons, and including two stunning 16-page full-color inserts of images, Chasing New Horizons is a riveting account of scientific discovery, and of how much we humans can achieve when people focused on a dream work together toward their incredible goal.
Light of the Stars tells the story of humanity’s coming of age as we realize we might not be alone in this universe. Astrophysicist Adam Frank traces the question of alien life from the ancient Greeks to modern thinkers, and he demonstrates that recognizing the possibility of its existence might be the key to save us from climate change. With clarity and conviction, Light of the Stars asks the consequential question: What can the likely presence of life on other planets tell us about our own fate?
Leland Melvin is the only person in human history to catch a pass in the National Football League and in space. Though his path to the heavens was riddled with setbacks and injury, Leland persevered to reach the stars.
While training with NASA, Melvin suffered a severe injury that left him deaf. Leland was relegated to earthbound assignments, but chose to remain and support his astronaut family. His loyalty paid off. Recovering partial hearing, he earned his eligibility for space travel. He served as mission specialist for two flights aboard the shuttle Atlantis, working on the International Space Station.
In this uplifting memoir, the former NASA astronaut and professional athlete offers an examination of the intersecting role of community, determination, and grace that align to shape our opportunities and outcomes. Chasing Space is not the story of one man, but the story of many men, women, scientists, and mentors who helped him defy the odds and live out an uncommon destiny.
As a chemist, athlete, engineer and space traveler, Leland’s life story is a study in the science of achievement. His personal insights illuminate how grit and grace, are the keys to overcoming adversity and rising to success.
Only twenty-four people have seen the whole earth. The most beautiful and influential photographs ever made were taken, almost as an afterthought, by the astronauts of the Apollo space program from the moon. They inspired a generation of scientists and environmentalists to think more seriously about our responsibility for this tiny oasis in space, this “blue marble” falling through empty darkness.
The Earth Gazers is a book about the long road to the capture of those unforgettable images. It is a history of the space program and of the ways in which it transformed our view of the earth and changed the lives of the astronauts who walked in space and on the moon. It is the story of the often blemished visionaries who inspired that journey into space: Charles Lindbergh, Robert Goddard and Wernher Von Braun, and of the courageous pilots who were the first humans to escape the Earth's orbit. These twenty-four people saw Earth in all its singular glory, and the legacy of the stories of these "Earth Gazers," resonate richly even today.