Solar System Exploration  illustration.
Credit: NASA/Jenny Mottar


50 Years of Solar System Exploration: Historical Perspectives has been issued by NASA Office of Communications/NASA History Division.

Divided into 12 chapters, this free volume is expertly edited by Linda Billings, a consultant to NASA’s Astrobiology Program and Planetary Defense Coordination Office in the Planetary Science Division of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC.

“What  readers will find in this volume is a collection of interesting stories about money, politics, human resources, commitment, competition and cooperation, and the ‘faster, better, cheaper’ era of solar system exploration,” explains Billings.

The volume features a diverse array of scholars that address the science, technology, policy, and politics of planetary exploration. This volume offers a collection of in-depth studies of important projects, decisions, and milestones of this era.

This volume is based on a symposium — “Solar System Exploration @ 50” — held in Washington, D.C. on October 25-26, 2012. The purpose of this symposium was to consider, over the more-than-50-year history of the Space Age, what we have learned about the other bodies of the solar system and the processes by which we have gained new knowledge.

The symposium commemorated the 50th anniversary of the first successful planetary mission, Mariner 2 sent to Venus in 1962, organized by the NASA History Program Office, the Division of Space History at the National Air and Space Museum, NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

For information on accessing this free publication, go to:

NASA webcast the entire symposium, archived here:

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