How Robotic Spacecraft Explore the Solar System

Michel van Pelt

Space Invaders Manned space missions attract the most media attention, and itís not hard to understand why: A "crewed" space flight necessarily involves personal danger, daring, and courage. It is hard for us, as earthbound observers, not to become imaginatively and emotionally involved in the sheer adventure of human beings launched into the heavens.

However, in the roughly fifty years of the Space Age, unmanned missions, compared to manned missions, have flown much more often, much further, for much longer, and into regions of the Solar System from which no human could ever hope to return. In this book, Michel van Pelt offers a "behind the scenes" look at the development of unmanned missions, from their first conceptual design to the analysis of the scientific data returned by the spacecraft. In technically detailed but easy-to-understand prose he tells us: In a blend of historical narrative and reader-friendly, informative analysis, Michel van Pelt describes not just the great unmanned spaceflights of our recent history, but the astonishing feats of exploration we can expect to witness in the decades to come.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. A space robot is born
  3. Anatomy of a space probe
  4. Building and testing
  5. Instruments of science
  6. Launch
  7. Distant destinations
  8. Death of a spacecraft
  9. A bright future
  10. Only just beginning

Extent: 328 pages
Binding: Casebound & Jacketed
Published: 2007
ISBN: 978-0-387-33232-1

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