"Money was maliciously introduced in ancient times as a tool of enslavement" -
Michael Tellinger

"The present belongs to the future and future generations, and all old laws, religious and other, should be abrogated immediately. Free us!" - Vinay Gupta on Twitter

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." - R. Buckminster Fuller

"You find the strangest ways to be positive!" - Diane Duane, Wizards Abroad

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Women in Space pt. 2: Managing Martians (book review)

After writing part 1, I realized - How could I have forgotten to mention this wonderful book? I loved this nonfiction account, too. It's not about astronauts, it's about behind-the-scenes heroism. Remember the wonderful little Mars Rover named Sojourner Truth? (above, right) It's been eclipsed in the public memory by the later, larger, and very spectacular success of rovers Spirit and Opportunity - but it was the story of the doughty little Sojourner which made those larger projects possible. At the time, Mars missions had been failing, and "Sojourner" reopened people's eyes and hearts (and thus NASA funding) to the adventure of Mars exploration.

Behind this success was Donna Shirley, the engineer who ran the project - the first woman to run a major space mission! She brought to the challenge incredible creativity and leadership. This book tells the inside story of how things really worked at that time in the space program. I'll just share my SLJ book review for now, while I'm thinking of it, and maybe comment further later. I'm so fascinated with the scientists and engineers who work in this field - especially if they're women.

Managing Martians by Donna Shirley, with Danelle Morton (1997)

(Adult/High School) Morton traces the career of engineer Donna Shirley, the first woman to manage a major space mission. Shirley became fascinated with planetary exploration as a child; after 35 years in the field, she still retains her sense of wonder. Writing in a clear and breezy style, she describes her experience with a number of space-related projects.

The greatest part of the book is devoted to the cliff-hanging development of "Sojourner Truth," the Pathfinder Mission's highly successful Mars rover. The author paints a vivid picture of the corporate culture of space exploration, the creativity and excitement of this work, and the colorful individuals who bring about the success or failure of these endeavors.

Through wry anecdotes, the author shows how hostile the cultural environment of engineering and space science can be to women, and how she has used humor and ingenuity to deal with these challenges. Readers will see how space missions happen and what it's like to work on them. More generally, the book will convey to older teens a sense of the sorts of frustrations and rewards a professional is likely to encounter in any professional field.

PS 2014 Mars colony candidate comments on women vis a vis space program, and quotes Donna Shirley here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jan-millsapps-phd/mars-mission_b_5884978.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592
Thanks and a tip o' the hat to Cousin Val for the link