Posts Tagged With: Red Planet

Mars Awaits

This month, Mars moves into the best position for observers on Earth since 2003. What Mars book are you reading to welcome the Red Planet?

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Under the Moons of Mars

Mars has always weighed heavy on man’s imagination. Since ancient times, the red planet has hung in the sky taunting us. Before space probes revealed it to be a dead world, it was where many authors set their adventures. Even afterwords, it has still lured writers there. First Burroughs and Bradbury explored the races among the red canyons and hills of the dying world. Even much later, Ben Bova’s manned mission to Mars found hints of a lost civilization.

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Perhaps the allure of Mars stays strong, in spite of being empty of cities and canals, because it still is seen as the most livable planet after Earth. That’s not saying much, considering how quickly one would die on its surface. But as planets go, it has resources that can be converted to fuels and supplies. And even better, perhaps it can be terraformed into a livable planet as outlined in Kim Stanley Robinson’s epic Mars Trilogy (starting with Red Mars). Robert Zubrin, in his The Case for Mars, describes how we can get there and why we should.

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Recent years have seen a growing armada of robots to Mars. It is obvious that its ancient hold on us has not gone away. While many people can’t break away from their televisions, the distant red sands still call on that part remaining inside of many humans that wants to explore and push our race forward out of the mud. Yes, there are those alien enthusiasts who get excited every time a rock looks like a “bone” or something and then conspiracy theories come out of the woodwork. Sorry, as much as we would like otherwise, Mars has not been hospitable to complex life even in the best of times. In fact, the universe is likely very barren. Most people look out at all the stars and think, “There must be millions of worlds out there teeming with life!” Yet, even statistics must yield to physics. The requirements for life are so specific and narrow, there are few places out there that could harbor others like us (or unlike us).

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Some think it depressing we may be all alone. Others still think advanced aliens are flying here in little ships that buzz cars in remote locations and crash a lot. Then perhaps, as many have suggested, maybe because we are here against impossible odds, we are special after all?

Even after all these centuries, Mars still calls on us to find our place and purpose in the universe. That is why writers will still explore the red sands until others finally set foot where water once flowed.

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Mars: A New Hope

NASA’s most ambitious Mars probe is set to land late today (or early tomorrow, depending where you live). NASA is one of the few government programs that actually invests in a major — and important — industry that supports high-tech jobs and science and technology advancement. However, the geniuses in Washington has been throwing NASA under the bus as of late. They’d rather bailout unsuccessful ventures. But I digress. At least NASA is finally relying more on the commercialization of space. Now if they only would do that with the International Space Station.

Man’s obssesion with Mars has been detailed by many authors in great fiction. Ray Bradbury’s classic The Martian Chronicles showed us the ruins of a dying world.

Edgar Rice Burroughs’ swashbuckling John Carter series is an amazing adventure series decades ahead of its time.

Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy is a detailed epic on man’s settlement and terraforming of the Red Planet.

There are many others, but these are of the best. Even though Mars is a dead world, it still draws us to it as one of the most dynamic — and mysterious — worlds in our Solar System. As unfolds in Robinson’s novels, it’s the most likely world for humans to colonize if we can ever begin to look further than next week. Robert Zubrin’s The Case For Mars explains the reasons and means for exploring the Red World.

In an era where the politicians lack any vision, and most people wander aimlessly through life, maybe Mars will inspire a few to raise the bar.

Especially in this election year with the same empty promises and waves of deception, Mars could be just what we need.

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