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Voyager: Seeking Newer Worlds in the Third Great Age of Discoveryby Stephen J. Pyne
"Several years after their launch in 1977, the twin spacecraft Voyager 1 and 2 flung themselves past Jupiter, using the giant planet's gravity as a booster rocket. Thanks to this innovation of orbital mechanics — and a once-in-176-years alignment of the planets — Saturn and even Uranus and Neptune lay within reach." Eric Hand, The Wilson Quarterly (Read the entire Wilson Quarterly review)
Synopses & Reviews
A brilliant new account of the Voyager space program-its history, scientific impact, and cultural legacy
Launched in 1977, the two unmanned Voyager spacecraft have completed their Grand Tour to the four outer planets, and they are now on course to become the first man-made objects to exit our solar system. To many, this remarkable achievement is the culmination of a golden age of American planetary exploration, begun in the wake of the 1957 Sputnik launch. More than this, Voyager may be one of the purest expressions of exploration in human history.
For more than five hundred years the West has been powered by the impulse to explore, to push into a wider world. In this highly original book, Stephen Pyne recasts Voyager in the tradition of Magellan, Columbus, Cook, Lewis and Clark, and other landmark explorers. The Renaissance and Enlightenment-the First and Second Ages of Discovery- sent humans across continents and oceans to find new worlds. In the Third Age, expeditions have penetrated the Antarctic ice, reached the floors of the oceans, and traveled to the planets by new means, most spectacularly via semi-autonomous robot. Voyager probes how the themes of motive and reward are stunningly parallel through all three ages. Voyager, which gave us the first breathtaking images of Jupiter and Saturn, changed our sense of our own place in the universe.
"'The saga of the Voyagers' trek is carrying the inherited narrative of exploration to its outer limits,' writes environmental historian Pyne (How the Canyon Became Grand). By looking at the mission of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 and comparing it with past voyages of discovery on Earth, Pyne offers a unique and engrossing history of the Western world's love affair with such journeys. The two space probes were launched on a 'Grand Tour' of space in 1977; both are still traveling and returning data to Earth, with Voyager 2 leaving the solar system. Pyne calls the Voyager mission the hallmark of a 'Third Great Age of Discovery,' similar to ambitious seagoing expeditions in the 16th and 18th centuries. As with those earlier journeys, Voyager was motivated by a mix of desires: military, political, economic, and a love of pure discovery. By narrating both the Voyagers and past voyages — such as Henry the Navigator's — Pyne captures the Western passion for exploration and the lure of the unknown, while relating the fascinating story of two fragile spacecraft continuing after three decades their brave quest across space and time. Illus. (July 26) " Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Blooms with such glorious rushes of exalted prose that I was dog- earing almost every page." --The New York Times Book Review
As debate over the future of NASA heats up, award-winning author Stephen J. Pyne presents America's greatest space expeditions as the latest chapter in a continuous saga of discovery that goes back centuries. Pyne's luminous narrative not only recounts the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 missions, launched in 1977 to explore the outer planets, but also fixes their place in Western civilization's urge to explore-an impulse that links NASA's scientists with Magellan, Columbus, Cook, Lewis and Clark, and other intrepid seekers through the ages. Pyne's eye-opening look at what he calls the third age of discovery "reminds readers of the rich cultural history that underlies humankind's exploration of the cosmos" (Science News).
About the Author
Stephen J. Pyne is a Regents Professor in the School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University. An award-winning environmental historian, he is the author of Year of the Fires, The Ice and How the Canyon Became Grand. He is the recipient of the Robert Kirsch Award from the Los Angeles Times. He lives in Glendale, Arizona.
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