Science Books

For the past several months, I’ve been mostly disappointed in the fiction I’ve been picking up at the public library. I’ve also exhausted the astronomy section there, too–at least the books published in the past ten years for adults. Earlier this month, I investigated getting borrowing privileges and the university library. Good move.

In the astronomy stacks at ISU I found lots of delicious volumes, including two dedicated to single moons of Jupiter.

Io After Galileo: A New View of Jupiter’s Volcanic Moon was a most enjoyable read. Dr Lopes and Dr Spencer compiled a book from numerous scientists exploring the results of the Voyger and Galileo probes. They also give some of the scientific history: what astronomers discovered and thought before the arrival of robot explorers. Some of the chemistry and geophysics was a bit beyond what I remembered or studied in college, but I followed closely enough.

The challenge with sending space probes to explore Io is the high-radiation environment near Jupiter will fry delicate electronics. More exploration is needed at Jupiter’s innermost large moon.

Richard Greenberg’s Unmasking Europa is more accessible to the ordinary reader. Working in its favor is the topic: the most interesting moon of Jupiter. Another good point is the enthusiasm for the subject matter plus Greenberg’s obvious affection for his students.

It’s a good story well told that’s flawed by the author’s bad experiences with the politics of science. That said, his case for “thin ice Europa” is convincing scientifically, which is good news for future exploration: a higher likelihood of penetrating the ice crust to get to the ocean below.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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