The Solar System is our cosmic backyard in the sprawling metropolis of the Milky Way galaxy. Its nine planets, over 100 moons, and countless billions of comets and asteroids have been circling our star, the Sun, since they all condensed from a giant cloud of gas and dust some 4.5 billion years ago.
From our isolated vantage point here on Earth, humans have long peered out at the big wide Universe through powerful telescopes. But the Solar System is the only corner of space that we can say we've actually visited.
Spaceprobes have been to every planet, with the exception of the distant ice world Pluto. They've monitored the Sun. And they've undertaken close reconnaissance of comets and asteroids.
And wherever spaceprobes have gone, they've been voracious sightseers - sending back a wealth of vivid imagery to capture the sights of alien worlds. Who can forget the amazing images from Mars Pathfinder as its tiny rover, Sojourner, trundled onto the surface of Mars in 1997? Or the stunning view of Comet Halley's nucleus when the European Giotto probe intercepted it in 1986? Or what about the Voyager tour of the outer gas giant planets? And the close-up imagery of Jupiter and its moons returned by the Galileo mission?
Within this book, you'll find pictures from all those missions and many others, presented in lavish full colour and accompanied with clear lay-language descriptions.
The exploration of the Solar System is continuing, with new missions and new technologies moving from the drawing board to the launch pad right now. These are exciting times for space exploration. So take a look inside and join in the adventure.
• By Paul Parsons.
• 100 glossy pages!
• Dozens of stunning color images.
• Published 2003