EXPLORING THE PLANETS: A MEMOIR

PrintE-mail Written by Nigel Watson

Professor Fred Taylor provides a fascinating insight into his life as a ‘rocket scientist’. On the way he shows how we have been able to launch increasingly sophisticated satellites packed with instruments to study our own planet’s weather systems, and to fire space probes to the Moon, our nearby planets and smaller bodies of the Solar System.

Taylor was lucky enough to be born only a few years before Sputnik 1 was blasted into Earth orbit in 1957. Encouraged by his maternal grandfather, whose hobby was astronomy, he studied physics at Liverpool University and after graduating went on to become a doctoral student at Oxford.

It was at Oxford he became involved in designing and building satellite instruments for monitoring the higher atmosphere. Following this work he went on to gain a position at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, where he produced instruments to measure the temperature of the planetary atmosphere of Venus for the Pioneer Venus mission.

In a career spanning 50 years, even he is surprised to look back and see that he has been involved in unmanned missions to Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, and not forgetting a comet.

Through his work, he was able to visit many parts of the world, where he attended conferences and gave lectures, and he was able to indulge in owning some smart looking sports cars. He tells of the politics and details of putting together these missions and how he became friends with Patrick Moore.

All-in-all a very readable account of how Professor Taylor was able to live out his childhood dream of exploring the planets and expanding our knowledge of the Solar System.

EXPLORING THE PLANETS: A MEMOIR / AUTHOR: FRED TAYLOR / PUBLISHER: OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS / RELEASE DATE: NOW 


 

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