Drifting on Alien Winds
New book reveals the weather patterns of other planets and moons in our solar system
Most people are familiar with the seasonal weather patterns on Planet Earth. Weather is omnipresent and has far-reaching impact, from the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina to the unusually heavy blizzards in the Northeast this past winter.
With the intense interest in weather, something that affects our daily lives, it’s worth looking at weather’s impact on other planets as well. In his new book, Drifting on Alien Winds – Exploring the Skies and Weather of Other Worlds, science journalist Michael Carroll explores the bizarre weather of alien worlds, from the blistering hurricane-force winds of Venus to the gentle methane rain showers of Saturn’s giant moon Titan. Blinding bolts of lightning sizzle through Jupiter’s skies, ammonia blizzards swirl through Saturnian clouds, and Earth-sized cyclones pinwheel across Uranus and Neptune.
Our knowledge of weather on other worlds has not come easily. Drifting on Alien Winds introduces the inventors, engineers, and scientists who struggled to launch the first probes that would help us to understand the atmospheres of other worlds. The untold stories of early engineering feats and failures, from small Soviet Venus balloons to advanced studies of blimps and airplanes for Mars and Titan, are showcased here, along with what we’ve learned and are still trying to learn about alien skies. Some of today’s most creative and scientifically feasible ideas for voyaging through distant skies are presented.
With spectacular spacecraft images and stunning original paintings by the author, Drifting on Alien Winds is a feast for the eyes as well as the mind.
Science journalist, writer, and artist Michael Carroll has been looking at the clouds for half a century. His 25 years as a science writer have afforded him the opportunity to work with many in the planetary science community, with contacts spanning from government research facilities to universities to aerospace corporations. Carroll is a Fellow of the International Association for the Astronomical Arts, and has written articles and books on topics ranging from space to archaeology. His articles have appeared in Popular Science, Astronomy, Sky & Telescope, Astronomy Now (UK), and a host of children’s magazines. His earlier book for Springer, The Seventh Landing, explores our plans to return to the moon. Carroll is the 2006 recipient of the Lucien Rudaux Award for lifetime achievement in the astronomical arts. He lives with his artist/sometimes-coauthor wife, Caroline, in Littleton, Colorado.