Raw Data From The Cassini Mission and Possible Life on a Small Moon Orbiting Saturn?

You've Never Read a PostgreSQL Book Like This One




I’ve found the book to be a treasure trove of Postgres features. CTEs are blowing my mind right now. I’m a backend engineer, and I’ve been sharing what I’ve learned with my coworker who is a DBA. She is picking  up some tips through me now! I haven’t found a good, engaging tutorial for these intermediate/advanced Postgres tricks, and "A Curious Moon" fills this gap. As a bonus, I’m also picking up some bash tips from the book.

A Little SciFi, A Database Tutorial and a Whole Lot of Data From Space...

Follow along with Dee Yan, our fictional data science intern, as she assumes the job of interim database administrator at the fictional aerospace startup, Red:4. She’ll learn PostgreSQL like we all do: on the job and under pressure.

Red:4 is bidding on a mission to one of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, considered to be a primary candidate for alien life. Dee needs to assemble, normalize, query and optimize data from the Cassini mission so it can go along as reference material for SELFI, NASA’s next-generation sensor that has a singular job: verify life under the ice of this remote moon.

A Ton of Code With a Real World Narrative Element in the Spirit of The Martian.

Mostly a PostgreSQL tutorial, this book also has a bit of fiction woven in to put you right in the hot seat with Dee. Sitting down with a book of concepts is fine, but that's not how most people learn to database. They do it live, figuring things out as they need to. That's what you'll do as you follow along with Dee.

You'll start out with the basics: creating tables and importing data. Soon, however, you'll be awash in glorious SQL and data from space, creating functions, common table expressions and calculating aggregates using window functions.

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    Straightforward and useful object creation. Yes there are GUIs and visual tools out there, but SQL with PostgreSQL is simple and easy to use when describing the precise table and index set that you want.
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    Importing data like a pro, using the command line and a Makefile. Again: there are GUIs you could use, but here at Red:4 we believe in keeping things simple and powerful, so we use Make and shell scripts with psql.
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    Auditing and sniffing out crap data as you become "data minded". Never trust a spreadsheet – this is the mandate from our data magistrate, M. Sullivan. You'll go through a basic audit process from real, raw data from JPL. It doesn't matter where the data is from, it will always have errors you'll need to correct.
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    Sleuthing through raw Cassini data using basic queriesPulling data in is only part of the process – looking for clues and understanding what you're seeing is the next step. Dee needs to gather data to support the next mission plan, and you're going to help her by using Common Table Expressions, Full Text Search indexing and Windowing Functions.
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    Speeding up slow queries with built-in analysis tools and objectsThe Cassini data dump is gigantic, and sifting through the analysis records can be time consuming! You'll use EXPLAIN and ANALYZE to figure out where to put your indexes and when it makes sense to build a materialized view, which is data cached on disk.
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    Analytical Calculations and VerificationNASA is a very thorough organization, but it's staffed by humans and humans like spreadsheets and spreadsheets destroy data. You'll use mathematical analysis to verify flyby altitudes and speeds using data from the INMS during the 22 close encounters with Enceladus.
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    The Ultimate Analysis: Is There Life Under the Ice of Enceladus? You will have all the data you need to support this claim: thermal, chemical and mineralogical results from two of the most sensitive instruments humans have ever created. You'll run the query and see the results for yourself!

You Will Learn PostgreSQL Like a Pro

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    Learn SQL From Scratch, and Then Some. SQL is a simple, powerful language that you can easily learn on the job. You'll do just that.
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    Climb Into an Amazing Set of Data! This is raw data, straight from NASA and JPL. You get to load, audit, structure and analyze all of it. No boring lorem ipsum blog post examples here.
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    Learn About Cassini, Saturn and Enceladus. Absolutely one of the most fascinating cosmic detective stories that has ever unfolded. You'll get to know Saturn's E-ring and this dynamic, mysterious moon with a shell of ice floating on a global ocean... possibly full of life.

What others are saying:

"I am loving the book!..."

"The narrative format is like no other programming book I've ever read, and it's really keeping me engaged and interested. I've struggled in the past to keep pushing through programming books that are dry & stock standard, but the characters in A Curious Moon make the book relatable and it makes me want to learn... thanks for creating something special"

Meggan Turner

Front End Developer

"Compulsively readable. Recommended."

"Reading through A Curious Moon... It's like reading The Martian, only instead of trying to survive in the hostile environment of another planet, it's about trying to survive in the hostile environment of snarky DBAs. Compulsively readable. Recommended."

Joshua Tompkins

New Relic

"... one of the best technical books I've ever read"

"I really enjoy your book! It is one of the best technical books I've ever read, and I read more than 40 books per year (technical and non-technical). What I like most about this book is that you mixed a sci-fi story with technical writing. It is like a novel for geeks!."

George Chatzimanolis

Startup Stories Podcast


Big Machine was founded in 2015 by Rob Conery (me). Before this happened, Rob (me) made videos for Pluralsight, and before that he made videos (and wrote stuff) for himself through his company Tekpub. Rob likes to explore things - perhaps a better way of putting it is that Rob likes to break things - it's what he does best.  He wants you to be educated in your strong opinion. To care a bit more deeply about a given technology that you cling to. He wants you to love what you do. That's Big Machine.

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