Library Journal Review
Like NASA's Pioneer and Voyager missions before, the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt made the dream of exploring the outer reaches of the solar system a reality. Stern (planetary scientist; Pluto and Charon: Ice Worlds on the Ragged Edge of the Solar System), along with Grinspoon (astrophysicist; Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet's Future), recounts the story of the quest to study Pluto, from the planet's discovery in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh to the visit in 2015 by NASA spacecraft New Horizons. Stern, who aspired to be a space scientist as a child, led the struggle to bring Pluto to the forefront of space exploration. Working with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and NASA, Stern and his team braved funding cuts, political fights, and bureaucratic red tape to plan, design, build, and fly the Pluto-bound spaceship. Interspersed among the scientific and engineering details of the mission are moving stories, such as Pluto discoverer Tombaugh's widow giving Stern some of the astronomer's ashes to put aboard the spacecraft. Stern also shares the emotional impact the endeavor had on himself and his colleagues. VERDICT Armchair space explorers and budding scientists will relish this inspiring aerospace adventure.-Donna Marie Smith, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., FL © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Stern, the leader of the NASA mission to send the first probe to Pluto, and astrobiologist Grinspoon (Earth in Human Hands), who played a small part in the project, manage to make its many technical and bureaucratic roadblocks into a thrilling narrative, despite readers' awareness of their ultimate success. The science involved in sending the spacecraft, New Horizons, over three billion miles from earth is certainly impressive, representing over two decades of work by a legion of devoted scientists. Their diligence and creativity paid off spectacularly when, in 2015, New Horizons flew by Pluto at 32,000 miles per hour and transmitted spectacular images back to Earth, reawakening a dormant public fascination with space exploration and dramatically increasing scientific knowledge. Stern's hands-on and passionate involvement with the project from its inception enables him to make potentially dull material-seeking committee approvals, battling for funding, and managing relationships with superiors-as interesting as the science, and he provides a valuable perspective on the practical aspects of getting a venture like this off the ground. This is a future classic of popular science, full of twists and turns and unexpected heroes (a teenager's passion for Pluto helped influence NASA administrators at a crucial moment), with a dramatic and profound payoff. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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