Skip to main content

The Interstellar Age: Inside the Forty-Year Voyager Mission

“In THE INTERSTELLAR AGE Professor Jim Bell celebrates Voyager--NASA's most famous space probe. Bell not only shines as a leading planetary scientist, you get the sneaky feeling he knew the probe personally, serving in this case as Voyager's personal biographer...” --Neil deGrasse Tyson

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. The fantastic journey began in 1977, before the first episode of Cosmos aired. The mission was planned as a grand tour beyond the moon; beyond Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn; and maybe even into interstellar space. The fact that it actually happened makes this one of humanity’s greatest space missions ever.

In The Interstellar Age, award-winning planetary scientist Jim Bell reveals what drove and continues to drive the members of this extraordinary team, including Ed Stone, Voyager’s chief scientist and the one-time head of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab; Charley Kohlhase, an orbital dynamics engineer who helped to design many of the critical slingshot maneuvers around planets that enabled the Voyagers to travel so far;  and geologists like Larry Soderblom whose Earth-bound experience would prove of little help in interpreting the strange new landscapes revealed in the Voyagers’ astoundingly clear images of moons and planets.

Praise for THE INTERSTELLAR AGE:

“In THE INTERSTELLAR AGE Professor Jim Bell celebrates Voyager -- NASA's most famous space probe. In this task, Bell not only shines as a leading planetary scientist, you get the sneaky feeling he knew the probe personally, serving in this case as Voyager's personal biographer to the benefit of us all.” --Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist, host of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, author of Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier

“Come along with Dr. Bell on an extraordinary adventure. He loves to travel. He relishes a long voyage. He doesn’t mind leaving home forever and never coming back. If it involves a once in lifetime journey through the cold emptiness of space, so much the better, as long as the ports of call are planets—up close and personal. These voyages changed what we know of the cosmos and our place within it. Jim Bell’s story will change you, too.” --Bill Nye, CEO, the Planetary Society

The Interstellar Age is dawning and this book recounts the saga of humanity’s greatest solar system exploration on the way out. Part scientific autobiography, part top-notch science writing, Jim Bell’s book is a welcome addition to the history of the Voyager Missions.” --Jon Lomberg, space artist, science journalist, and co-creator of the Voyager Interstellar Record

“Everyone loves Voyager, and every few years the plucky spacecraft give us yet another reason to remind us why. Now that Voyager 1 has passed beyond the veil of the helioshere and plunged into interstellar space, Jim Bell takes up the narrative of what that mission has meant and makes his personal relationship, which dates from his days as a student, stand for the near-universal bond most of us feel. A timely, humane, and informative read.” --Stephen Pyne, historian, and author of Voyager: Seeking New Worlds in the Third Great Age of Exploration
 

"The space mission that turned points of light into worlds… the Grandest Tour … Voyager. Over 35 years after it was launched, it's now sending back data from beyond our solar system. Live the incredible adventure in Jim Bell's personal yet sweeping and comprehensive account, the story of one of the greatest explorations in history and the extraordinary people who made it happen." -- Andrew Chaikin, author of A Man on the Moon and A Passion for Mars