Science Online | Books & Reports | Newsletters | SB&F | Annual Report | Store
Home About AAAS Programs Membership Publications News Career Resources

Publications

Science Books & Films

Triple-A S: Advancing Science, Serving Society

Publications of AAAS and Science


sbflogo
 
Brushing Up On Mars
Welcome to the SB&F Editor's Blog. I am Maria Sosa, Editor-in-Chief of SB&F. Through this blog I hope to interact with the SB&F community and post news and information related to science books, videos, authors, opportunities and other topics of interest to our readers. I hope you find the blog useful and entertaining. Please, join the conversation by posting a comment on our Facebook page. I'd love to hear from you!


Syndication

In case anyone out there doesn't already know, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) launched by NASA on November 26, 2011, successfully landed the Curiosity rover on August 6, 2012. Curiosity's successful landing, and all of the excitement that surrounded it, has inspired me to immerse myself in all things Mars, including reading Kim Stanley Robinson's award-winning science fiction trilogy, which is included in the list of resources below. By no means definitive and certainly not complete, I've tried to include a little bit of something for everyone on this list of resources.  

If you are looking for easy access to all the latest space information as it happens, there's a NASA App that collects, customizes and delivers an extensive selection of dynamically updated information, images and videos from various online NASA sources in a convenient mobile package for your iPhone, Android, or iPad.

Click on the title of the books if you'd like to see ordering information from Amazon. If you want to recommend any favorite resources of your own for this list, please leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Books for Kids

Fred Bortz, Seven Wonders of Space Technology (Illus.; from the Seven Wonders Series.) NY Twenty-First Century Books 2011. 80pp. ISBN 9780761354536.

In this book, Bortz highlights some of the most amazing vehicles and equipment that have been designed to explore the solar system. Along the way he describes the people and the science behind these amazing advances. One chapter is devoted to the Mars rovers-Sojourn, Pathfinder, Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity.

Ian Graham, Solar System: A Journey to the Planets and Beyond (Illus.; from the 3-D Explorer Series.) 2009. 32pp. ISBN 9781592237586.          

This book takes children on an exciting tour of the solar system (including Mars), exposing them to results obtained by early astronomers and current human and robotic explorers. It includes 5 pop-up, 3-D pages and provides exciting accounts of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, life on the International Space Station, robotic rovers on the surface of Mars, an exploration of the eight planets, and the impact of a comet on Jupiter.  

Elizabeth Rusch, The Mighty Mars Rovers: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity. (Illus.' from the Scientists in the Field Series) NY: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 80pp. ISBN 978-0547478814.

The Mighty Mars Rovers tells the story of Spirit and Opportunity through the eyes of Steven Squyres, professor of astronomy at Cornell University and lead scientist on the mission, and several of the other scientists involved in the mission. Beautifully written and designed, the book is a perfect beginning to the story of Curiosity, which is featured on its final pages.

Alexandria Siy, Cars on Mars: Roving the Red Planet (Illus.) Watertown, MA Charlesbridge. 2009. 57pp. ISBN 9781570914621.

This book tells the story of Spirit and Opportunity, Mars rovers that preceded Curiosity. The numerous photographs of Mars, taken on the ground by the rovers and also by accompanying spacecraft in orbit, make the book beautiful and informative, even for the very young.  

Books for Adults

Jim Bell, Postcards from Mars: The First Photographer on the Red Planet. NY: Plume, 2010. 208 pages. ISBN: 0452296749.

Jim Bell, NASA scientist and photographer, has painstakingly edited, cropped, and processed this selection of images from the over 150,000 photographs taken by the rovers Spirit and Opportunity to produce this amazing book. Its over 150 lavish full-color prints can satisfy our cravings for glimpses of the Martian landscape while we wait for images from Curiosity.

Rod Pyle, Destination Mars, New Explorations of the Red Planet. Prometheus Books. 2012. 348pp.ISBN 9781616145897.

This is a terrific book that recounts the exploration of Mars, covering missions from Mariner 4 in 1964 through the Mars Science Laboratory which landed on August 2012. What makes the book stand out, however, is the focus on space exploration as "a deeply human endeavor." (p.10) The author helps you feel the tension when things go wrong and the exhilaration when things go right in a narrative that illuminates the process of how we have developed our knowledge of Mars.

Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void. (Illus.) NY Norton. 2010. 334pp. ISBN 9780393068474.

The physiological and psychological phenomena that space travelers will face on long duration missions such as trips to Mars, is the focus of this delicious book. Oddly, given the title, Mars missions themselves are merely motifs against which the history and future of biological entry into space is presented. Roach's method of researching a topic is very hands-on and participatory. Packing for Mars is an intensely quirky, but highly accurate, account of what the author discovered in her research.

Jim Bell, Postcards from Mars: The First Photographer on the Red Planet. NY: Plume, 2010. 208 pages. ISBN: 0452296749.

Jim Bell, NASA scientist and photographer, has painstakingly edited, cropped, and processed this selection of images from the over 150,000 photographs taken by the rovers Spirit and Opportunity to produce this amazing book. Its over 150 lavish full-color prints can satisfy our cravings for glimpses of the Martian landscape while we wait for images from Curiosity.  

Scott Hubbard, Exploring Mars: Chronicles from a Decade of Discovery. Tucson, University of Arizona Press:  2012. 224pp. 2011036184. ISBN 9780816528967.

Hubbard, the first Mars Program Director at NASA headquarters, had responsibility for redefining all robotic Mars missions in response to the Mars failures in 1999.This well-written story is fascinating, even suspenseful at times, as Hubbard's team races to get the new Mars Program established and to prepare for the 2003 launch of the rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Curiosity was the last mission planned under Hubbard's year-long tenure, and serves as a testament to his farsighted management.

Science Fiction

Robinson, Kim Stanley. Red Mars. New York: Bantam, 1993.

Robinson, Kim Stanley. Green Mars. New York: Bantam, 1994.

Robinson, Kim Stanley. Blue Mars. New York: Bantam, 1996.

Robinson's Mars Trilogy is a series of award-winning science fiction novels that chronicles the settlement and terraforming of the planet Mars through the intensely personal viewpoints of a diverse collection of characters. As the story unfolds over nearly 200 years, political, sociological, and scientific advances on Mars contrast with social unrest, overpopulation, and ecological disaster on Earth. Robinson is a very cerebral writer, and some people find his books challenging. I would say they are challenging, but in the very best possible way. They are exceedingly complex and rewarding adventures that combine fascinating characters, plausible and detailed science discussions, and ideas that are both deep and universal.  

Edgar Rice Burroughs, The John Carter of Mars Collection. Amazon Kindle Editions: 2009.

This Kindle book contains the first three books in the John Carter of Mars series of books written by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The first three books in the series were told from the point of view of John Carter; many books followed the first three, but frequently were written in third person. You won't find much reality in John Carter's Mars, which was first conceived by Burroughs about 100 years ago. But this iconic adventure series is still a lot of fun and reminds us that the Red Planet has been part of our imagination for a very long time.

 

Image Credit: Mars Rover Curiosity. (Image: WIKI Commons, public domain


Posted 14 Aug 2012 2:41 PM by Maria Sosa