Mars: Making Contact

Author:
Rod Pyle
Publisher:
Carlton Books
Category:
Astronomy

This book appeared in Advance Copy, a column in which NASW book editor Lynne Lamberg asks NASW authors to tell how they came up with the idea for their book, developed a proposal, found an agent and publisher, funded and conducted research, and put the book together. She also asks what they wish they had known before they began working on their book, what they might do differently the next time, and what tips they can offer aspiring authors. She then edits the A part of that Q&A to produce the author reports you see here. Publication of NASW members’ reports in Advance Copy does not indicate NASW’s endorsement of their books. NASW welcomes your comments, and hopes this column stimulates productive discussions. To join the discussion or submit your book, visit Advance Copy.

The Red Planet holds an enduring fascination. Filled with extraordinary detail and documents, this book offers a visually stunning insider's look at how Mars has been explored and the challenges facing future missions. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has been the principal explorer, launching the Mariner spacecraft that sped past Mars and snapped 22 grainy photographs in 1965. After many flybys and orbital missions, NASA finally landed the twin Viking probes on Mars in 1976. From 1996 through to the present day, a series of rovers have been sent to Mars, each more sophisticated. Today two rovers are operating on the red sands Curiosity and Opportunity. They have enabled us to make incredible discoveries, each more compelling than the last. Ancient rivers, lakes, ocean beds, and valleys have been charted, suggesting a landscape that could once have supported life. Preparations are already underway for a manned mission to Mars, and the book discusses the many challenges faced, from the design of the spacecraft to the impact on the human body, both physically and psychologically of such a journey as well as surviving on the planet's inhospitable surface.