Mars_DJ_REL2.indd

Mars Up Close: Inside the Curiosity Mission by Marc Kaufman; National Geographic Books, Wash., D.C.; $40.00 (hardcover); August 2014.

This is an absolutely stunning book. After this read, and soaking in the lavishly dazzling presentation, you’ll get to know the fourth planet as never before … and why this world is a place that is ready for human exploration.

Kudos go to the author, Marc Kaufman, a gifted science journalist that transformed himself to become an “embedded Martian,” spending two years with engineers and scientists dedicated to exploring the enigmatic world. He observed up-close and personal the drama and tension of getting NASA’s Curiosity rover up into space, then down and dirty on the Red Planet.

The book’s publication date is timed to salute the August 6, 2012 landing of Curiosity – but sends the reader on a journey that is now on-going. In a very real sense, this book is a toolkit to better appreciate the mystery that is Mars – not just from a geological perspective, but the pursuit to uncover whether the planet was, or is now, an extraterrestrial address for life.

Mission Makers: Adam Steltzner: “Exploring is fundamentally human; we’ve done it for thousands of years. It’s an expression of something that’s the best in us.” – From Mars Up Close – Inside the Curiosity Mission. Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Entry, Descent and Landing Engineer Adam Steltzner reacts after the Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars and as first images start coming in to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Mission Makers: Adam Steltzner:
“Exploring is fundamentally human; we’ve done it for thousands of years. It’s an expression of something that’s the best in us.” – From Mars Up Close – Inside the Curiosity Mission.
Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Entry, Descent and Landing Engineer Adam Steltzner reacts after the Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars and as first images start coming in to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

I found the “Mission Makers” segments in the book particularly appealing. So often the gee-whiz hardware overwhelms the fact that humans make the hardware happen. These vignettes of the men and women on the forefront of discovery while uncovering more puzzling questions add to the vitality of this book.

There’s even an extra added attraction to this volume. Throughout the book, a special icon on certain images denotes the inclusion of those images in NASA’s free Spacecraft 3D app, a tool that allows users to view a three-dimensional experience of Mars on their smartphone or tablet.

As Kaufman reflects: “For me, Curiosity has forever increased that gravitational pull of interest about our cousin planet. We’ve been connected since the start, both born from the same disk of debris orbiting our protosun. It’s not inevitable that our futures will bring us closer again, but it’s quite possible, and quite desirable, too. A challenge, a prize, a time capsule like no other, Mars beckons.”

The book includes a “Humans to Mars” chapter that spotlights how the Curiosity rover is a stepping stone to planting footprints on that faraway world.

Underscoring that prospect is a foreword to the book written by SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk. Mars Up Close was created with generous support from SpaceX. “Sending large numbers of people to explore and settle Mars in the decades ahead isn’t inevitable, but it is entirely possible,” Musk observes.

For more information on this book, go to:

http://shop.nationalgeographic.com/ngs/product/books/science-and-space/mars-up-close

NOTE: To celebrate the new National Geographic book Mars Up Close a special event is being staged at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. and also carried via Live Stream.

The event starts Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. EST.

For an event update, go to:

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/mars-up-close/

By Leonard David

Leave a Reply

Griffith Observatory Event