These publications are available from the publisher listed or may be ordered through local bookstores.


Managing Martians: The Extraordinary Story of a Woman's Lifelong Quest to "Get to Mars" and of the Team Behind the Space Robot That Has Captured the Imagination of the World

by Donna Shirley
Broadway Books, 1998
Hardcover. $25

Donna Shirley's engaging memoir recounts her experiences breaking into the male-dominated world of aerospace engineering to spearhead the Pathfinder rover project as manager of the Mars Exploration Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Built on a "shoestring" budget of $25 million, the tiny rover known as Sojourner Truth became a symbol for the possibilities of imaginative aerospace engineering and design.

Managing Martians, which has enjoyed national media exposure and a first printing of 50,000, revisits the Pathfinder project from an insider's perspective, as Shirley wages political and personal battles to defend the vision of the rover project once seen as "at best a toy and at worst a joke."

The most compelling part of Shirley's book comes in her panged remembrances of an awkward adolescence spent reading science-fiction novels and daydreaming about airplanes and the possibilities of flight. Shirley triumphed over the many barriers facing any gifted and intelligent girl in the 1950s, only to face similar challenges as a woman in the burgeoning robotics-engineering program. Perhaps it took a young girl's imagination, as embodied in the determination and will of a grown woman, to lead the team that made an unlikely success out of the dark-horse robot known as Sojourner Truth. At any rate, Shirley's account presents one valuable angle in the story of humanity's triumphant return to the Red Planet, and her book reminds the reader that space exploration has implications for humanity beyond the realms of engineering and science.

— Brian Anderson

(Brian Anderson is the editor of the Lunar and Planetary Information Bulletin.)


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