Red Rover: Inside the Story of Robotic Space Exploration, from Genesis to the Curiosity Rover
by Roger Wiens
Basic Books, 2013 ($25.99)

The principal investigator for the ChemCam—the Curiosity rover's rock-vaporizing laser—recounts his experiences working at the frontier of space exploration. Tight deadlines and budget constraints pushed mission teams to exercise their creativity and find D.I.Y.-style solutions to problems that threatened to halt projects. Wiens offers a backstage tour of the delights and disappointments of working on missions—including the Genesis mission to collect solar-wind particles, which wound up crash-landing in the Utah desert.