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Book Review: Destination Mars – New Explorations of the Red Planet

Destination Mars – New Explorations of the Red Planet by Rod Pyle; Prometheus Books; Amherst, New York; $19.00; 2012

As you read this, NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) is bearing down on the red planet – headed for an early August entry, descent and landing.

Once again, scientists and engineers will have fingers-crossed as this powerful machine dives into the thin Martian atmosphere, headed toward Gale crater.

Rod Pyle’s latest work is a first-rate primer to get ready for MSL – and a special tip of the space helmet visor for writing such a unique volume, one that offers behind-the-scenes portraits of our favorite Martians, past, present and new.

Let’s face it. The Red Planet does not easily shed its secrets.

Destination Mars takes the reader on a voyage to this eon-aged world, one that continues to lure inquisitive scientists and space engineers.

From the pretentious Viking landers that dared to ask the “L” question – is there life here? – to the bouncing ball-delivery of Spirit and Opportunity rovers and the soft touchdown of the Phoenix lander – Pyle has scripted a fact-filled, up-to-date book.

Beyond the science and technology of Mars exploration, the author provides insights into the personalities — from cheerleaders to unsung heroes — that have transformed our understanding of the red planet.

As Pyle explains, “exploring Mars is a bit like doing brain surgery through a mile-long soda straw” with humans striving “to discover what makes Mars tick.”

If successful, the upcoming Mars Science Laboratory mega-rover is sure to open a new chapter in red planet probing.

Destination Mars provides the early chapters to the on-going chronicle of opening up this terra incognito to extraordinary exploration.

For more information on this book, go to:

http://www.prometheusbooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=37_58&products_id=2118

By Leonard David

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