'New Frontiers of Space' Book Brings Universe Down to Earth

The cover of Time's "New Frontiers of Space: From Mars to the Edge of the Universe."
The cover of Time's "New Frontiers of Space: From Mars to the Edge of the Universe." (Image credit: Time Books)

A new book celebrates the past and future of human exploration of the cosmos.

"New Frontiers of Space: From Mars to the Edge of the Universe" explores the most important people and breakthroughs in space science and spaceflight today. The team at TIME Books responsible for creating the coffee table book pulled their ideas directly from the headlines.

An asteroid flyby, exoplanet discoveries, NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, the meteor explosion over Russia all inspired the creation of the book. [See photos from TIME's "New Frontiers of Space" (Gallery)]

"You also have new breakthroughs in commercial space in terms of SpaceX docking with the International Space Station, kind of an international growth in space exploration," said Steve Koepp, the editor of "New Frontiers of Space." "So, all these things were converging and it seemed like it provided material for going after this topic in a way that had many themes."

The South African Large Telescope takes snapshots of the sky that allow scientists to study binary star systems. Image uploaded on July 25, 2013. (Image credit: Steve Potter/Courtesy of SALT)

The book features everything from a timeline of manned and unmanned missions to space to a section devoted to the major players on commercial spaceflight. Photos of the Earth from orbit, life on Mars and an African telescope are also explored in detail.

The writers of the book — who included Jeffrey Kluger and Michael Lemonick — also highlighted some of the major unsolved mysteries of the universe. Kluger and Lemonick wrote about the hunt for extraterrestrial life and dark matter in the cosmos among other subjects.

"There was such a variety in the topics that it seemed to lend itself to this broad approach with many different chapters," Koepp told SPACE.com. "It seems like rarely have we had this many breakthroughs and this many fascinating events regarding space all at one time."

The team working on the book continued to update it until the oversized book went to print, Koepp said. A section about searching the skies for asteroids was updated continuously, while new discoveries from Curiosity were added as they happened.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was named one of the 25 most influential people in space in the new book "New Frontiers of Space." Image uploaded on July 25, 2013. (Image credit: Gabrielle Revere/Contour by Getty Images)

"New Frontiers in Space" also names the top 25 most influential people in space as chosen by a core group of editors and reporters. The list includes exoplanet scientists, private entrepreneurs and scientists from countries around the world.

"Some are probably obvious, practically household names — people like [astrophysicist] Brian Green," Koepp said. "But we were going for diversity here: Diversity of academic pursuit, of business, global diversity, gender diversity. We wanted to show just how many different ways you can approach the frontiers of space."

"New Frontiers in Space: From Mars to the Edge of the Solar System" is in stores now. For more details on the book, visit: http://www.time.com/spacediscoveriesbook

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Miriam Kramer
Staff Writer

Miriam Kramer joined Space.com as a Staff Writer in December 2012. Since then, she has floated in weightlessness on a zero-gravity flight, felt the pull of 4-Gs in a trainer aircraft and watched rockets soar into space from Florida and Virginia. She also served as Space.com's lead space entertainment reporter, and enjoys all aspects of space news, astronomy and commercial spaceflight.  Miriam has also presented space stories during live interviews with Fox News and other TV and radio outlets. She originally hails from Knoxville, Tennessee where she and her family would take trips to dark spots on the outskirts of town to watch meteor showers every year. She loves to travel and one day hopes to see the northern lights in person. Miriam is currently a space reporter with Axios, writing the Axios Space newsletter. You can follow Miriam on Twitter.