The Worlds of Galileo, by Michael Hanlon

I can remember many years ago being entranced by a Quantum program (now rebadged as Catalyst) dedicated to the Galileo probes flyby of Jupiter.

With the Cassini probe approaching Saturn, it seems appropriate to review this lovely book.

It’s a quality book, starting with the sumptuous pictures, continuing with the human story of it’s creators, down to the nitty gritty technical stuff.

All the politics and engineering tradeoffs leave you reeling sometimes; why bother doing this sort of science at all if you’re not going to do it properly?

There’s plenty of space given to the technical problems the probe had (the worst being the high gain antenna failing to deploy, causing a complete rewrite of the communications system, and a rethinking of the entire mission), and the solutions found.

A lot of room is given to conjecture on the possibility of life on Jupiter and its moons. Although the book is quite old and a lot of theories of life have now been squashed, the hope and excitement of these scientists is palpable. The very idea of tidal gravity being strong enough to warp the centre of a moon such that it melts and provides enough heat to create a subsurface ocean possible of supporting life is, well, mind blowing.

Another interesting facet was the all the different types of science done from afar.

Definitely recommended if you’re into books that give you the whole story of an event.


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