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Worlds Fantastic, Worlds Familiar
A Guided Tour of the Solar System


  • Author: Bonnie J. Buratti, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
  • Date Published: February 2017
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107152748

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About the Authors
  • Join Bonnie J. Buratti, a leading planetary astronomer, on this personal tour of NASA's latest discoveries. Moving through the Solar System from Mercury, Venus, Mars, past comets and asteroids and the moons of the giant planets, to Pluto, and on to exoplanets, she gives vivid descriptions of landforms that are similar to those found on Earth but that are more fantastic. Sulfur-rich volcanoes and lakes on Io, active gullies on Mars, huge ice plumes and tar-like deposits on the moons of Saturn, hydrocarbon rivers and lakes on Titan, and nitrogen glaciers on Pluto are just some of the marvels that await readers. Discover what it is like to be involved in a major scientific enterprise, with all its pitfalls and excitement, from the perspective of a female scientist. This engaging account of modern space exploration is written for non-specialist readers, from students in high school to enthusiasts of all ages.

    • Gives many comparisons between the planets and Earth, describing the Solar System using phenomena that the reader would be familiar with
    • Provides a realistic description of scientific discovery, showing both the good and bad elements, from the viewpoint of a female scientist
    • Gives simple non-mathematical descriptions and analogies to many physical ideas, and is therefore suitable for a broad general audience
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This book is a delight … The narrative is, throughout, engaging. We, her readers, can be grateful.' G. T. Dempsey, GeoLounge (

    'This engaging account of modern space exploration is written for non-specialist readers, from students in high school to enthusiasts of all ages.' Lunar and Planetary Information Bulletin

    'As befits a scientist who grew up under the tutelage of Carl Sagan, the author's devotion to educational outreach is made clear throughout, as she endeavours to communicate to the next generation of students the wonder and joy of science and the enterprise of discovery. … The text is clearly written and accessible to anyone with a modicum of scientific education. There are numerous black-and-white illustrations, some of which are also reproduced in a separate colour section. This enjoyable account achieves its objective of informing the lay reader about 'the final frontier', and it may well encourage some up-and-coming scientists to delve deeper into the secrets of distant worlds.' Peter Bond, The Observatory

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2017
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107152748
    • length: 250 pages
    • dimensions: 158 x 235 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.59kg
    • contains: 108 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Mercury: the hottest little place
    2. Venus: an even hotter place
    3. Mars: the abode of life?
    4. Asteroids and comets: sweat the small stuff
    5. Galileo's treasures: worlds of fire and ice
    6. Enceladus: an active iceball in space
    7. Titan: an Earth in deep freeze?
    8. Iapetus and its friends: the weirdest 'planets' in the Solar System
    9. Pluto: the first view of the 'third zone'
    10. Earths above: the search for exoplanets and life in the universe

  • Author

    Bonnie J. Buratti, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
    Bonnie J. Buratti is a Senior Research Scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. With expertise on icy moons, comets and asteroids, she holds degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cornell University, New York. She is currently serving on the Cassini and New Horizons science teams, and is the US Project Scientist for Rosetta. She is a past Chair of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, and advises NASA. The author of over 200 scientific papers, Buratti was awarded the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal and the International Astronomical Union named asteroid 90502 'Buratti' in recognition of her work.

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