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Destination Mars: New Explorations of the Red Planetby Rod Pyle
Synopses & Reviews
In the next decade, NASA, by itself and in collaboration with the European Space Agency, is planning a minimum of four separate missions to Mars. Clearly, exciting times are ahead for Mars exploration. This is an insider’s look into the amazing projects now being developed here and abroad to visit the legendary red planet. Drawing on his contacts at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the author provides stunning insights into the history of Mars exploration and the difficulties and dangers of traveling there.
After an entertaining survey of the human fascination with Mars over the centuries, the author offers an introduction to the geography, geology, and water processes of the planet. He then briefly describes the many successful missions by NASA and others to that distant world. But failure and frustration also get their due. As the author makes clear, going to Mars is not, and never will be, easy. Later in the book, he describes in detail what each upcoming mission will involve.
In the second half of the book, he offers the reader a glimpse inside the world of Earth-based "Mars analogs," places on Earth where scientists are conducting research in hostile environments that are eerily "Martian." Finally, he constructs a probable scenario of a crewed expedition to Mars, so that readers can see how earlier robotic missions and human Earth simulations will fit together.
All this is punctuated by numerous firsthand interviews with some of the finest Mars explorers of our day, including Stephen Squyres (Mars Exploration Rover), Bruce Murray (former director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory), and Peter Smith (chief of the Mars Phoenix Lander and the upcoming OSIRIS-REx missions). These stellar individuals give us an insider’s view of the difficulties and rewards of roaming the red planet.
The author’s infectious enthusiasm and firsthand knowledge of the international space industry combine to make a uniquely appealing and accessible book about Mars.
"As Pyle (Destination Moon) points out, Mars is a 'planet of dreams,' provoking fantasies about aliens and busy canals. Advances in technology over the past 50 years, however, have given us a more accurate if equally vivid insight into the red planet. Pyle's time line of Mars exploration introduces both the missions and the scientists and engineers behind them, such as musician-turned-planetary geologist Jeffrey Plaut and Rob Manning, Pathfinder's chief engineer and online NASA star. The tour begins with the space probe Mariner 4, which in 1965 captured the first closeup images of 'a dry, barren place festooned with craters.' Pyle goes on to describe how later flybys revealed old volcanoes, evidence of wind erosion, and most surprising, gullies, streambeds, and canyons — signs that there had once been moving water on Mars. Succeeding missions sampled soil and delivered more revealing pictures of Mars's surface. Later robot explorers like Spirit, Opportunity, and Phoenix carried more advanced onboard labs to search for water and evidence of microbial life. As the souped-up Curiosity rover preps for landing later this year, with the capacity to take 3D photos and HD video, Pyle gives readers a workmanlike, enlightening crash course in Mars research and exploration. Photos. Agent: John Willig, Literary Services Inc." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Rod Pyle is the author of the widely praised books Destination Moon and Missions to the Moon, as well as the popular audiobook In Their Own Words: The Space Race. He has written and produced numerous documentaries for the History Channel and Discovery Communications, including the acclaimed Modern Marvels: Apollo 11 and Mars: 100 Years of Discovery. Pyle has been an assistant professor at the University of La Verne, California, and frequently lectures at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
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