Red Rover

Man, I just finished a most interesting book! This is a bit outside the usual subject matter on Urban Monk, but I have to post something anyway!

Roger Wiens is a cousin, related both to my wife and to myself. He is a scientist working for NASA in Los Alamos, New Mexico. This book details his involvement with developing one of the instruments on the Curiosity rover currently exploring our neighbouring planet Mars.

Attending family reunions over the years I always viewed the two Wiens boys from Minnesota as really, really bright kids. They both ended up with PhD’s, experts in their own fields. I particularly remember one reunion in the nineties where either Doug or Roger gave a talk on ways in which science and the Bible agree, and that we don’t have to divide ourselves into camps on one side or the other. In the setting of fundamentalist mindsets of many of those present I always viewed this as a tremendously courageous talk! I was proud to be related to these brilliant people. But I had no idea of the extent of their work.

Until the last few years. A couple years ago we were alerted to a television appearance by Doug, an earthquake expert, following the devastating Japan earthquake. And now this book, detailing Roger’s work in space exploration.

The book reads like an adventure novel! It is very well written, surprisingly so for someone as highly educated as Roger Wiens! (Sorry, Roger!!) It is an articulate telling of the compelling story of one particular aspect of the Mars rover story. Roger was in charge of an instrument called ChemCam which uses lasers to analyze the composition of rocks and soil on the Mars surface. All of the gritty details of their problems, failures, disappointments, getting cancelled at one point, and successes, are told in a very entertaining way. It is a real page turner, for sure!

Even if the reader is not in the least interested in space exploration, it is a very good read. And for me, who has always been interested in space, flight, the cosmos, etc, I could hardly put the book down!

Check it out! Red Rover, by Roger Wiens. You will not be disappointed.