We are at the cusp of a golden age in space science, as increasingly more entrepreneurs--Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos--are seduced by the commercial potential of human access to space. Read more...
We are at the cusp of a golden age in space science, as increasingly more entrepreneurs--Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos--are seduced by the commercial potential of human access to space. But Beyond Earth does not offer another wide-eyed technology fantasy: instead, it is grounded not only in the human capacity for invention and the appeal of adventure but also in the bureaucratic, political, and scientific realities that present obstacles to space travel--realities that have hampered NASA's efforts ever since the Challenger disaster.
In Beyond Earth, Charles Wohlforth and Amanda R.Hendrix offer groundbreaking research and argue persuasively that not Mars, but Titan--a moon of Saturn with a nitrogen atmosphere, a weather cycle, and an inexhaustible supply of cheap energy, where we will even be able to fly like birds in the minimal gravitational field--offers the most realistic and thrill-ing prospect of life without support from Earth.
(With 8 pages of color illustrations)
- ISBN-13: 9780804197977
- ISBN-10: 0804197970
- Publisher: Pantheon Books
- Publish Date: November 2016
- Page Count: 320
- Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-09-26
- Reviewer: Staff
Planetary scientist Hendrix and writer Wohlforth weave scientific research with fascinating speculation to paint a picture of how and why humankind might spread to other planets. They take into account technology, psychology, politics , and more, concluding that humans first colony will most likely be on Saturns moon Titan. Their arguments for Titan are simple: it offers radiation protection, lakes of hydrocarbons for fuel, and an atmosphere that eliminates the need for pressurized suits. In addition to basic survival requirements, the authors tackle the problems unique to prolonged human spaceflight and reasons for planetary colonization. They predict that something drastic would have to happen on Earth to motivate humans to seek another home. To that end, the books fictional sections become an account of global conflict, a fresh start on Titan, and eventual habitation among the stars. These future speculations read like a decades-spanning, dystopian sci-fi adventure. The authors unsophisticated takes on global conflict are somewhat disappointing, but they do raise important questions about support for biotech-based eugenics and how it may be employed in space colonization. On the whole, the fictional chapters are entertaining, chilling, and put the science in a more human context. The two halves work together to create a striking, reality-based possible future thats seen through the lens of current knowledge. (Nov.)