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Chasing new horizons : inside the epic first mission to Pluto
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Where is it?
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 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--and nothing like it is planned to happen 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 our most historic achievements are in the past, the most distant planetary exploration ever attempted not only succeeded 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 the mission: of their decades-long commitment; of the political fights within and outside of NASA; of the sheer human ingenuity it took to design, build, and fly the mission. Told from the insider's perspective of Dr. Alan Stern, Chasing New Horizons is a riveting story of scientific discovery, and of how far humanity can go when we work together toward an incredible goal.
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Booklist Review
When the planet Pluto was demoted in 2006 by the International Astronomical Union to a mere dwarf planet, removing it from the same exalted cosmic club as Earth and Mars, many critics derided the reclassification as arbitrary and unscientific. One of them was Stern, a NASA principal investigator who earlier that year spearheaded the launch of the Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft. In the late 1980s, with probes just finishing flybys of Jupiter and Uranus, Stern and dozens of fellow aerospace experts formed the Pluto Underground to make sure our solar system's most distant planet wasn't slighted. Here, Stern and astrobiologist-coauthor Grinspoon recount the full fascinating story behind the New Horizons mission, including its many false starts, financing challenges, and engineering snafus. Traveling more than 3 billion miles at 32,000 miles per hour, the probe's findings revealed a wealth of exciting and unusual data about Pluto and its massive moon, Charon, which astronomers are still puzzling over. Stern and Grinspoon's account will appeal to space buffs and every fan of high-quality science writing.--Hays, Carl Copyright 2018 Booklist
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Table of Contents
Preface: Inside the Farthest Exploration in Historyp. xi
Introduction: Out of Lockp. 1
1Dreams of a Grand Tourp. 7
2The Pluto Undergroundp. 25
3Ten Years in the Wildernessp. 43
4The Undeadp. 69
5New Horizons at Last?p. 99
6Building the Birdp. 109
7Bringing It All Togetherp. 129
8A Prayer Before You Gop. 139
9Going Supersonicp. 149
10To Jupiter and the Ocean of Space Beyondp. 165
11Battle Plan Plutop. 183
12Into Unknown Dangerp. 199
13On Approachp. 209
14July 4th Fireworksp. 227
15Showtimep. 241
16Everestp. 249
17Onward New Horizonsp. 265
Coda: A Final Discoveryp. 271
Appendix: The Top Ten Science Discoveries from the New Horizons Exploration of the Pluto Systemp. 275
Acknowledgmentsp. 283
Indexp. 285
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