Mars is a small world with a big reputation. This mysterious planet – with volcanoes that dwarf Mount Everest, a canyon system that would stretch fully across the USA and curious landscapes that may support life – has fascinated us for centuries.
In the most up-to-date account available of the elusive 'Red Planet', Stephen James O'Meara follows our longstanding love affair with this bewildering world, from the musings of humanity's first stargazers, to the imaginings of science-fiction writers and film-makers, to the latest images and discoveries from orbiting spacecraft and robotic rovers. Mars also reviews plans for piloted missions to Mars, and what it will take for those missions to succeed.
Stephen James O’Meara is an award-winning astronomer and author of more than a dozen books, including A Dictionary of Space Exploration (2018). He is a columnist and editor for Astronomy magazine, associate editor of GeminiFocus, and asteroid 3637 is named O’Meara in his honour.
"For readers investigating Mars for the first time, the impressive collection of photographs taken by rovers and orbiters will astonish, and may even make you question if what you are seeing is real. If you've ever wondered about life on Mars or what Martian blueberries look like, O'Meara will provide you with the answers [...] Mars will appeal to historians, planetary geologists and anyone with an interest in space and exploration."
– BBC Sky at Night Magazine
"The raptor-sharp vision of journalist O'Meara is legend among astronomers. In his latest book – the chapter on practical tips for red-planet watchers – he describes sighting Mars in broad daylight during its 2018 close approach to Earth. Less visually endowed observers will still enjoy his finely focused overview of the history of Mars through the ages, with an emphasis on the flood of information received from robotic missions in the past twenty years [...] Humans have been making plans to join the robotic crew on Mars in the next decade. O'Meara's book should be required preparatory reading."
– Natural History
"Presenting the red planet in both fact as well as the many fictions in which it has been featured, and including some of the most up-to-date discoveries from the information collected by the Curiosity rover, this book should be of interest to both dedicated astronomers as well as the simply martially curious alike."
– Well-read Naturalist
"This fascinating book on Mars is written from a unique perspective: Stephen O'Meara has been observing Mars visually through telescopes for nearly a half century, and as such he understands well the limits that visual observers of the past have had. Combined with his talent for writing scientific history for the lay person, this has resulted in a book that anybody desiring to learn about the history of the red planet, from ancient times up to our modern spacecraft era, will enjoy."
– Daniel W. E. Green, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University