This is a good tome if you are looking for well-written astronomy books that are comprehensible to the average intelligent reader. (I’m thinking people who are or were comfortable with high school-level science.) Each chapter is devoted to one space mission, and the authors, Chris Impey and Holly Henry buttress interesting stuff on the actual topic, but enhance the perspective with a wealth of material from the history of science.
Like many publishers, Princeton University Press needs better people in its editing department. I found two howling errors (howling to me) in the introduction. If they were the authors’, they should have been caught–that’s an editor’s job. The other errors in the book I noticed were subtle, and I enjoyed how the authors went back in time from a mission, or projected forward to the next horizon. It wasn’t just a straight up thing of progressing from the person who though up the project, who carried it out, who won the NASA budget battle, and how it all worked out in the end.
Now that we know the universe is home to quadrillions of interesting worlds small and large, it really is a dream to think of them all and wonder. Good astronomy books promote wonder. This one scores on that front, so the small errors can be forgiven.