Saturday, July 19, 2014

"Curiosity" by Rob Pyle

In the mail: Curiosity: The Inside Look at the Mars Rover Mission and the People Who Made It Happen, by science writer Rob Pyle.

Personally, I thought the landing of the Curiosity Rover on Mars in August 2012 was as exciting as anything fror the Apollo missions, including the first landing on the Moon (whose 45th anniversay is tomorrow). (Video is here.)

Maybe more so. Being on the Web instead of a grainy view on a black and white television made it much easier to share in the drama, I wasn't 9-years old and sleepy (Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the Moon at 10:56 pm Eastern Time) after being keyed up all day knowing what was coming, I've been at JPL to interview Steve Squyres about the earlier rovers and had seen where and how they work, and the next morning I got to interview the lead scientist, John Grotzinger, even though he'd been up all night and had to be drained.

Maybe I'm just a kid at heart, but I still get goosebumps when the JPL guy says "We're safe on Mars" and the anxious room explodes into cheers and high-fives.

So I'm sure I'll find Pyle's book interesting. It has behind-the-scenes stories, delves into the scientific reasons for the mission, and technical details on how the rover was built.

It's be a great gift for a high-schooler who is into science, and better yet, space. Are there any such kids anymore, or do they all want to work at Google instead of NASA or SpaceX? My 9-year old nephew doesn't seem aware of space travel at all, even though I've given him a couple of books on it. Are any 9-year olds nowadays?

Don't at least a few of them want to go to Mars? This book would be a good start.

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