• Title: Red Rover: Inside the Story of Robotic Space Exploration, from Genesis to the Mars Rover Curiosity
  • Author: Roger Wiens
  • Released: 2013-03-12
  • Language: English
  • Pages: 256
  • ISBN: 0465055982
  • ISBN13: 978-0465055982
  • ASIN: 0465055982
From Launched in late November 2011, the Curiosity rover was the most expensive, elaborate robotic device to touch the Martian surface since NASA began sending landers to the Red Planet in 1975 with Viking I. When Curiosity booted up its onboard equipment last August, one of the instruments used to analyze rock and soil samples was the ChemCam, a laser-zapping device built by Los Alamos geochemist Wiens. Here Wiens uses his involvement with this latest Martian venture as a springboard for an engaging history of robotic space exploration from the Genesis project that initiated his career to the unique problems he and his team faced with the one ton, jeep-sized Curiosity. Along with fascinating anecdotes about the bureaucratic challenges and equipment snafus he needed to overcome to get ChemCam loaded onto the rover, Wiens also describes the feats of engineering that produced Genesis in 2004, a probe designed to capture solar wind. A remarkable memoir and testament to the ingenuity of the space program’s many scientists who build the tools needed to explore our solar system. --Carl Hays

Review Washington Post
“[Wiens] is a good guide through the process of building a space probe…. His inside narration of how things go wrong at NASA is the great strength of this book. It is rich with details of how both the ChemCam team in particular and the Curiosity rover in general overcame engineering challenges such as faulty lenses and awkward temperature distributions.”

BBC Sky At Night
“This engaging new book by Roger Wiens whose team built Curiosity’s ChemCam instrument, gives a unique insider’s view… Wiens’s accessible and conversational writing is a major strength of Red Rover, providing a thoroughly human perspective on a complex technological subject.”

“An engaging history of robotic space exploration.... A remarkable memoir and testament to the ingenuity of the space program’s many scientists who build the tools needed to explore our solar system.”

Scientific American
“Wiens offers a backstage tour of the delights and disappointments of working on missions."

Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly
“Wiens’s writing is clear and engaging. . . . A unique contribution . . . . this book reinforces a vision of outer space as emblematic of technological progress, but also nicely encapsulates the external, messy factors that influence, hinder, and help the development of a robotic explorer.”

Publishers Weekly
“This entertaining insider account of Wiens’s work on two groundbreaking robotic space explorers—the Genesis and Curiosity Rover—captures all the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of modern space science . . . Wiens brings his work to life, candidly addressing the inevitable technological and bureaucratic obstacles and failures that compose the frustrating prelude to scientific victory.”

Kirkus Reviews
“The author provides fascinating insight into the struggle to solve scientific problems despite technical constraints and equipment failures….A winning memoir of great achievement.”

Steve Squyres, Professor of Astronomy, Cornell University, and author of Roving Mars
“We live in a new golden age of exploration, as robotic spacecraft fan out across the solar system, extending the human experience to other planets. With Red Rover, Roger Wiens provides a delightful, candid, and highly personal insider’s view of this great endeavor.”

Jim Bell, Professor of Planetary Science, Arizona State University, President of the Planetary Society, and author of Postcards from Mars
“Roger Wiens has crafted a delightful and very personal history of planetary exploration that takes us from his boyhood fascination with the Apollo Moon missions to his leading role as a key scientist on the latest Mars rover. His journey from a small prairie town to the laser labs of Los Alamos reminds us that passion, imagination, and perseverance are what propel us to explore the frontiers of space.”

John L. Phillips, retired NASA astronaut, and former NASA Chair Professor, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School
“Red Rover offers an enticing personal look at the exaltations and disappointments of unmanned space exploration. Roger Wiens vividly portrays the genius and perseverance of the dedicated scientists and engineers who have made robotic exploration of the solar system a reality.”

Laurie Leshin, Dean, School of Science, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
“In Red Rover, Roger Wiens gets you up close and personal with the highs and lows, the triumphs and disappointments that come with pushing the scientific envelope, and the great persistence required to succeed. A great read for anyone interested in exploring the frontiers of space.”

I have to say I love this idea, it solved a big problem.

Alexandria Hathaway
Steelville, Missouri

Why Actstr?


Your easy workspace evolves your ideas into finished products.


Cut through the clutter and get fair results in a fresh & exciting way.


Actstr is a simple and powerful tool that automatically organizes for loyal results.

Definitely recommended. Great experience, which gave us a better perspective and helped to solve several business problems.

Madison Wisner
Buffalo, New York

Meet the Actstr team

Juan Pablo Montoya

Joshua Wisner

Warehouse Supervisor

Kyle Zimmerman

Maya Benson


Cheryl Collins

Christopher Sanders


Pure and simple. You guys have nailed it.

Alizay Henderson
East Honolulu, Hawaii

Proudly Partenering With