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The Interstellar Age: Inside the Forty-Year Voyager Mission

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  842 ratings  ·  139 reviews
The story of the men and women who drove the Voyager spacecraft mission- told by a scientist who was there from the beginning. The Voyager spacecraft are our farthest-flung emissaries-11.3 billion miles away from the crew who built and still operate them, decades since their launch. Voyager 1 left the solar system in 2012 its sister craft, Voyager 2, will do so in 2015. Th ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 24th 2015 by Dutton
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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William Lawrence
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book blew my mind. It's not five star for fancy prose. It's the ideas & concepts & basic facts about the mission that blow this one through the roof.

My favorite part: "And Pluto-- for God's sake, it's got an atmosphere and five moons of its own. If that's not a planet, I don't know what is... By my reckoning...our solar system has about thirty five known planets so far, and it's likely that dozens more will be discovered... Let's celebrate those numbers and diversity of planetary character
Jenni Buchanan
I'm a bookish person, not a scientist. My excitement about space up until this point has included the enjoyment I get from finding the basic constellations, reading about Valentine Michael Smith, and watching Star Trek episodes. But this book inspired me. Jim Bell is a wonderful storyteller, an inside observer/participant of many aspects of the Voyager mission, and most importantly, a passionate planetary scientist and explorer. I took notes while reading The Interstellar Age. I looked up planet ...more
Anna J. Shelby ☕
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A single remark: my ebook-version had all the pictures in the addemdum. It would've topped it off having them included in the chapters.
Roo Phillips
Apr 17, 2018 rated it liked it
If I could trace back to the beginning why I am where I am right now, I would probably tie everything back to the Voyager spacecraft. A science prep class my sophomore year of high school required a homework assignment on Voyager. I instantly fell in love with space, exploration, discovery, journey's, and possibilities. I would like to give the book 4 stars for personal reasons, but as the content and structure goes, it could've been better. It covers too little on the spacecraft themselves, and ...more
David R.
Mar 31, 2015 rated it liked it
Bell's got astrophysical chops, but he's really a spectator (fanboy?) of the Voyager program that began in 1977 and witnessed new discoveries at four planets. The book has a noticeably breathless quality and there's an unusual amount of hero worship especially of the late Dr. Carl Sagan. The byproduct is a book that's interesting but not deep on material. I found myself wanting a good deal more. I think a book that solidly addresses Voyagers 1 & 2 would involve multiple contributors and skip the ...more
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Originally published at Reading Reality

I had the same reaction to The Interstellar Age as I did when I went to the Kennedy Space Center a few years ago. I got choked up. Why? Because to this Star Trek fan, space travel is awesome and the future and I’m not going to get to go. Life is too short, and Congress doesn’t give NASA nearly enough funding for space tourism for the middle class to become “real” in my lifetime.

I will tie this back to Star Trek at the end, believe it or not.

But about the bo
Amazing, just amazing. The wealth of information that this book carries and the amount of knowledge that I gained after reading this book is really incredible. Must must read for anyone who is even slightly interested in astronomy and our solar system. I learnt everything about the outer planets and their moons in our solar system thanks to this book. Voyager mission is probably the most difficult mission ever undertaken. I appreciate the efforts of all those who were part of this mission, since ...more
Feb 02, 2016 rated it liked it
In The Interstellar Age, planetary scientist Jim Bell celebrates the Voyager program, which has continued far beyond the spacecrafts' initial mission.

Bell stresses the critical importance of scientific grunt work, all the stuff that happens behind the scenes of these enormous projects. No job, however small it seems, is unimportant. He points out that all types—whether "tinkerer" or a "theoretician," whether seen or unseen—are vital to the team and their success.

Something that struck me while r
May 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, science
Not really sure why this is called the "interstellar" age, given that everything in it happens within the solar system. Probably should have called it the intrastellar age. That said, that is the least of my issues with this book. This suffered from many of the same problems that How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming had - it was pointlessly and distractingly autobiographical, and way too masturbatory about the field of astronomy. I don't care if you met Carl Sagan, dude, or what confe ...more
Zoe's Human
The Interstellar Age is a fascinating look at the woes and discoveries of the men and women of the Voyager team interspersed with almost memoir-like personal anecdotes which enable an emotional connection with the science.

While the subtitle implies the book to be more about the scientists than the science, I would consider it more of a broad overview of Voyager history including insights into the experiences of the individuals involved as well as the social context of the mission. Regardless, I
Aug 30, 2017 rated it liked it
This book is for people who have a keen interest in space exploration. The Voyager missions are relatively unheralded as far as all space accomplishments go, but they may have yielded as much data as Hubble and other projects.

It is forty years since both missions were launched and both craft are the furthest objects that humankind has ever sent into space. They have moved out beyond our system and are traveling at a speed of 10 miles per second. Their electrical generators will run out of fuel
Amanda Van Parys
Oct 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, 2018, nonfiction
Wasn't as comprehensive as I was looking for, but was still interesting nonetheless!
Peter Tillman
Pretty good, if unmemorable, account of, well, what it says. Here's the review that led me to read it:
"Unmanned space exploration doesn’t prevent wars, cure dreadful diseases or yield any other salutary utilitarian accomplishment. On the evidence of Jim Bell ’s comprehensive and engrossing “The Interstellar Age: Inside the Forty-Year Voyager Mission,” however, it is easy to conclude that it is a more than worthwhile endeavor. "
I certainly agree, though Bel
Menglong Youk
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5/5 stars

"Interstellar Age" is a book about the two Voager spacecrafts that went on a grand tour of our solar system to explore the worlds we only knew as dots in the sky. The book describes how the mission came to be and who were behind this masterpiece of engineering, technology and planetary science. It is quite fascinating to learn that forty years ago, humans were capable of sending probes to the far reach of the solar system and in 1990, Voager I took an image of what Carl Sagan called "
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perfect (& intentional) timing to be reading this at exactly the 40-year mark since the Voyagers' launch. Both a highly informative and fascinating read detailing arguably the greatest space-based venture ever undertaken by mankind. ...more
Marie-Eve Chagnon
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physical-copy
Ya this was just plain awesome! If you want to learn more about the voyager missions then this is a book for you.
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
An amazing and, at times, mind blowing trip through our solar system and beyond along the Voyager spacecrafts. Arguably one of the most impressive human feats in history.
Scott Johnson
I was sadly really disappointed with this one. It still gets a pass rating, because I grew up indescribably obsessed with Voyager. I recently acquired an old copy of "Journey Beyond Selene", an infinitely superior history of Voyager and other robotic explorations that I had to have checked out of my local library's abysmally small science section at least 3 dozen times.

The entire thing read as a long reminiscence/brag. Credit where it's due: Bell does reiterate several times how goddamn lucky he
Rod Van Meter
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
First rate pop science, by a scientist who has been there. Turns out the author was a year behind me at Caltech, but I don't think I knew him.
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Some great insight into the Voyager missions and the outer Solar System, with a bit too much personal stuff from the author.
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow! What an amazing tale of discovery. Bell lovingly tells the Voyager missions' stories while reintroducing us to our solar system and the people who made these spacecraft and the science they conduct possible. Fantastic book.
Martin Ratcliffe
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent and quick read conveying the excitement of the Voyager missions to the outer planets. Previous books (Voyager's Grand Tour, Betholff and Schorn, Smithonsian Books, 2009) gave an in-depth and comprehensive look at the Voyager mission, so I wondered how this one would differ.

I was not disappointed - it conveys the thrill of discovery from the perspective of growing up in the age of Voyager as I did. The writer shares his and my generational view moving from High School to Uni
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
I received a free copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

The author's passion for space exploration clearly shows in this narrative of the Voyager mission. I wasn't alive or aware of what was going on for most of these discoveries, so reading about them from someone who was going through college and graduate school during the time is probably the next best thing.

The narrative is pretty tight. One advantage of a book like this over a textbook is that the discoveries are discussed in order of t
John V
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
An inspiring read!
Jim Bell recounts the amazing accomplishments of a (relatively) small group of people who set out on the most extraordinary exploration of humankind- the Voyager space probes and their journey to interstellar space. You don't need a background in science or physics to appreciate this book, Jim explains some truly mind blowing concepts in a easy to read and accessible way.
You will make your way past our moon and Mars on your way to meeting Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and
Mark Fallon
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In the wake of the successful flyby of Pluto by New Horizons , it's good to be reminded of the past - and continuing - successes of the Voyage spacecraft. Bell is a great tour guide, who as a teenager was inspired by the launch of the spacecaft, as a grad student witnessed the flybys of Jupiter and Saturn, and whose friends still take part in the mission. A timely explanation of the dedication and hard work of the teams who make these exploration efforts possible.
Feb 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Audio - lots of questions provoked as the author told the story of the Voyager space probe missions and pondered about implications. There was a bit much of the author's own story of education and personal connection (Carl Sagan fanboy?), but I found myself looking at the stars last night with renewed awe and respect.
Fraser Kinnear
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, history, space, nasa
Absolutely wonderful. Bell is surprisingly self-effacing and super enthusiastic about the Voyager program. Much of the book (esp. the first third) seems to be written for more of a high-school audience (e.g., the Voyager record), but Bell eventually gets into really juicy details about the Voyager program. For me, that was the mission planning (trajectories), flight science (experiments), flight engineering (design of power, thermal control, comms, and propulsion), flight operations (procedures, ...more
Timeo Williams
May 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
A detailed look of the Voyager 1 and 2, and the accomplishments and feats achieved by the probes that are still operating and flying through space today.

- The photos included in the book were stellar, giving a glimpse of what it would be like to put yourself inside that probe and see our solar system for a mere second.

Some notable quotes:
"But the history of pushed forward mostly by key individuals goes back much farther in time and crosses many cultures, including notable Greek, Arab, Persian,
Scott Martin
Sep 14, 2017 rated it liked it
(Audiobook) While the book is a couple of years old, I did mange to read it close to the 40th anniversary of the launch of the two Voyager probes. It is a fascinating tale of how these spacecraft came into being, the issues trying to plan and launch them, and then all the trials and tribulations associated with these spacecraft. It is remarkable what these two simple space probes managed to achieve, expanding our knowledge of the outer planets of the solar system. Using technology that is quite ...more
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
NF book group for astronomy theme.
I wasn't going to bother with this after reading two other books for the theme but I picked this up and it was interesting and easy to read right away, so I figured I would give it a go.

The personal timeline was a bit confusing (the author's involvement in the project popped in and out of the narrative of the mission) and there wasn't as much about the lead up to the mission, the building and programming and planning as I expected.

But the story of how a pair
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James (Jim) F. Bell III (born July 23, 1965) is a Professor of Astronomy at Arizona State University, specializing in the study of planetary geology, geochemistry and mineralogy using data obtained from telescopes and from various spacecraft missions.
Dr. Bell's active research has involved the NASA Mars Pathfinder, Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR), Comet Nucleus Tour (CONTOUR), 2001 Mars Odys

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