Dreams of Other Worlds: The Amazing Story of Unmanned Space Exploration

Princeton University Press

Dreams of Other Worlds describes the unmanned space missions that have opened new windows on distant worlds. Spanning four decades of dramatic advances in astronomy and planetary science, this book tells the story of eleven iconic exploratory missions and how they have fundamentally transformed our scientific and cultural perspectives on the universe and our place in it.

The journey begins with the Viking and Mars Exploration Rover missions to Mars, which paint a startling picture of a planet at the cusp of habitability. It then moves into the realm of the gas giants with the Voyager probes and Cassini's ongoing exploration of the moons of Saturn. The Stardust probe's dramatic round-trip encounter with a comet is brought vividly to life, as are the SOHO and Hipparcos missions to study the Sun and Milky Way. This stunningly illustrated book also explores how our view of the universe has been brought into sharp focus by NASA's great observatories--Spitzer, Chandra, and Hubble--and how the WMAP mission has provided rare glimpses of the dawn of creation.

Dreams of Other Worlds reveals how these unmanned exploratory missions have redefined what it means to be the temporary tenants of a small planet in a vast cosmos.

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About the author

Chris Impey is University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Arizona. His books include The Living Cosmos, How It Ends, and How It Began. Holly Henry is professor of English at California State University, San Bernardino. She is the author of Virginia Woolf and the Discourse of Science: The Aesthetics of Astronomy.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Sep 8, 2013
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Pages
464
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ISBN
9781400848812
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Astronomy
Science / General
Science / History
Science / Physics / Astrophysics
Science / Space Science
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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“Impey combines the vision of a practicing scientist with the voice of a gifted storyteller.”—Dava Sobel

In this vibrant, eye-opening tour of milestones in the history of our universe, Chris Impey guides us through space and time, leading us from the familiar sights of the night sky to the dazzlingly strange aftermath of the Big Bang.

What if we could look into space and see not only our place in the universe but also how we came to be here? As it happens, we can. Because it takes time for light to travel, we see more and more distant regions of the universe as they were in the successively greater past. Impey uses this concept—"look-back time"—to take us on an intergalactic tour that is simultaneously out in space and back in time. Performing a type of cosmic archaeology, Impey brilliantly describes the astronomical clues that scientists have used to solve fascinating mysteries about the origins and development of our universe.

The milestones on this journey range from the nearby to the remote: we travel from the Moon, Jupiter, and the black hole at the heart of our galaxy all the way to the first star, the first ray of light, and even the strange, roiling conditions of the infant universe, an intense and volatile environment in which matter was created from pure energy. Impey gives us breathtaking visual descriptions and also explains what each landmark can reveal about the universe and its history. His lucid, wonderfully engaging scientific discussions bring us to the brink of modern cosmology and physics, illuminating such mind-bending concepts as invisible dimensions, timelessness, and multiple universes.

A dynamic and unforgettable portrait of the cosmos, How It Began will reward its readers with a deeper understanding of the universe we inhabit as well as a renewed sense of wonder at its beauty and mystery.

“Expansive and enlightening. . . . Impey packs his prose with wonderful anecdotes and weird factoids.”—New York Times Book Review

Human exploration has been an unceasing engine of technological progress, from the first homo sapiens to leave our African cradle to a future in which mankind promises to settle another world. Beyond tells the epic story of humanity leaving home—and how humans will soon thrive in the vast universe beyond the earth.

A dazzling and propulsive voyage through space and time, Beyond reveals how centuries of space explorers—from the earliest stargazers to today’s cutting-edge researchers—all draw inspiration from an innate human emotion: wanderlust. This urge to explore led us to multiply around the globe, and it can be traced in our DNA.

Today, the urge to discover manifests itself in jaw-dropping ways: plans for space elevators poised to replace rockets at a fraction of the cost; experiments in suspending and reanimating life for ultra-long-distance travel; prototypes for solar sails that coast through space on the momentum of microwaves released from the Earth. With these ventures, private companies and entrepreneurs have the potential to outpace NASA as the leaders in a new space race.

Combining expert knowledge of astronomy and avant-garde technology, Chris Impey guides us through the heady possibilities for the next century of exploration. In twenty years, a vibrant commercial space industry will be operating. In thirty years, there will be small but viable colonies on the Moon and Mars. In fifty years, mining technology will have advanced enough to harvest resources from asteroids. In a hundred years, a cohort of humans born off-Earth will come of age without ever visiting humanity’s home planet. This is not the stuff of science fiction but rather the logical extension of already available technologies.

Beyond shows that space exploration is not just the domain of technocrats, but the birthright of everyone and the destiny of generations to come. To continue exploration is to ensure our survival. Outer space, a limitless unknown, awaits us.

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