Mars: Uncovering the Secrets of the Red Planet

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9780792276142: Mars: Uncovering the Secrets of the Red Planet

A breathtaking visual tour of Mars uses images from a variety of orbiting and landing vehicles to give readers the best view of the Red Planet available outside of NASA. Reprint.

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Review:

On Mars the sky is pink, the polar caps are made of dry ice, the volcanoes are 17 miles high, and there is a little rock named Lozenge. Paul Raeburn's new book about Mars is full of fun facts like these. Published by the National Geographic Society, this volume also features 125 striking photographs of the planet's surface, many of them from the 1997 Pathfinder mission. A pair of 3-D glasses are tucked into the cover so that the foldout "Marscape" in the middle of the book practically leaps off the page. Raeburn chronicles the history of humankind's fascination with Mars, presenting the theories of ancient astronomers and the fantasies spun by science fiction writers. When one 19th-century scientist thought he spotted canals on the surface of the planet, many people jumped to the conclusion that there was water on Mars and that there must be life on the planet. This hopeful idea flourished for many decades, until the first pictures from the Mariner expedition of 1965 revealed that the planet is arid and pocked with craters like Earth's own moon. The Viking and Pathfinder missions gathered more data about the planet, photographing its volcanoes and enormous canyons, offering glimmers of hope to the life-on-Mars contingent. Raeburn describes each Mars mission, profiles several of the major players in Mars research, and discusses future exploration of the planet. Raeburn's account of human exploration of the red planet is fascinating, but the pictures are the best thing about this book. Lozenge isn't much to look at, but that 17-mile-high volcano is, and so is the rest of the fourth planet's undulating, dusty terrain. --Jill Marquis

About the Author:

Paul Raeburn is now a senior editor at Business Week, where he directs science coverage. He spent 15 years as science editor and chief science correspondent for the Associated Press.

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