The Mission: A True Story

Custom House. Jan. 2021. 480p. ISBN 9780062654427. $29.99. SCI
Journalist Brown provides a narrative of one of the most ambitious science projects ever conceived: NASA’s deep-space mission to Europa. This true story has not been previously written about in such detail. Europa, one of the moons orbiting Jupiter, has miles of ice that may contain an ocean that may contain life. The story begins with Bob Pappalardo, a former disciple of Carl Sagan while a student at Cornell University. Pappalardo had multiple stops in academia and developed a doctoral thesis that focused on Jupiter’s moons. He would become Project Scientist for a motley crew focused on developing a mission to explore Europa. This eclectic team encounters multiple challenges, including navigating the complexities of NASA, the White House, Congress, members of academia, and even Jupiter itself. The grit and persistence, mixed with the idealism of the group, led to creative approaches for completing the mission, including hitching a ride on another rocket launch designed to send a robot to Jupiter. This inspiring story provides a look into some of the characteristics needed to make change in a large industrial complex. Extensive notes are provided for further research.
VERDICT An engaging read for all, especially for anyone curious about the details of space exploration.
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