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Exploration and Engineering

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Quest for Mars

Erik M. Conway

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Getting to Mars required engineering genius, scientific strategy, and the drive to persevere in the face of failure.

Although the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has become synonymous with the United States’ planetary exploration during the past half century, its most recent focus has been on Mars. Beginning in the 1990s and continuing through the Mars Phoenix mission of 2007, JPL led the way in engineering an impressive, rapidly evolving succession of Mars orbiters and landers, including roving robotic vehicles whose successful deployment onto the Martian surface posed some…

Getting to Mars required engineering genius, scientific strategy, and the drive to persevere in the face of failure.

Although the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has become synonymous with the United States’ planetary exploration during the past half century, its most recent focus has been on Mars. Beginning in the 1990s and continuing through the Mars Phoenix mission of 2007, JPL led the way in engineering an impressive, rapidly evolving succession of Mars orbiters and landers, including roving robotic vehicles whose successful deployment onto the Martian surface posed some of the most complicated technical problems in space flight history.

In Exploration and Engineering, Erik M. Conway reveals how JPL engineers’ creative technological feats led to major breakthroughs in Mars exploration. He takes readers into the heart of the lab’s problem-solving approach and management structure, where talented scientists grappled with technical challenges while also coping, not always successfully, with funding shortfalls, unrealistic schedules, and managerial turmoil.

Conway, JPL’s historian, offers an insider’s perspective into the changing goals of Mars exploration, the ways in which sophisticated computer simulations drove the design process, and the remarkable evolution of landing technologies over a thirty-year period.

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Exploration and Engineering

Erik M. Conway

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Reviews

Reviews

A masterpiece of research and writing.

A 'must' for any reader of modern astronomy who wants insights into how the lab conducts its research, solves problems, and handle[s] technological challenges.

A great tale of ambition, mishap and recovery, building on extensive archival research and interviews with JPL managers, scientists and engineers, to deliver a detailed overview of each mission's feats and failures... Exploration and Engineering is a great book for everyone seriously interested in the struggles and achievements of JPL as NASA's centre for Mars exploration.

Will be appreciated by space enthusiasts, especially those interested in the perennial NASA battle over whether to fund unmanned science probes or human spaceflight.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
416
ISBN
9781421421223
Illustration Description
11 halftones, 10 line drawings
Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Introduction
1. Planetary Observers, Mars Observer
2. Politics and Engineering on the Martian Frontier
3. Attack of the Great Galactic Ghoul
4. Engineering for Uncertainty
5. Mars Mania
6

Acknowledgements
Introduction
1. Planetary Observers, Mars Observer
2. Politics and Engineering on the Martian Frontier
3. Attack of the Great Galactic Ghoul
4. Engineering for Uncertainty
5. Mars Mania
6. The Faster-Better-Cheaper Future
7. Revenge of the Great Galactic Ghoul
8. Recovery and Reform
9. Margins on the Final Frontier
10. Sending a Spy Satellite to Mars
11. Robotic Geologists on the Red Planet
12. Reengineering a Spacecraft, and a Program
Conclusion
Epilogue
Appendix
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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