Archive for the ‘Space Book Reviews’ Category


Credit: National Geographic

Credit: National Geographic

The next frontier in space exploration is Mars, the red planet—and human habitation of Mars isn’t much farther off.

In October 2015, NASA declared Mars “an achievable goal;” that same season, Ridley Scott and Matt Damon’s The Martian drew crowds into theaters, grossing nearly half a billion dollars in the first two months. Now the National Geographic Channel goes years fast-forward with “Mars,” a six-part series documenting and dramatizing the next 25 years as humans land on and learn to live on Mars.

Following on the visionary success of Buzz Aldrin’s Mission to Mars and the visual glory of Marc Kaufman’s Mars Up Close, this companion book to the Nat Geo series shows the science behind the mission and the challenges awaiting those brave individuals. The book combines science, technology, photography, art, and story-telling, offering what only National Geographic can create. Clear scientific explanations, gorgeous photography from outer space and the planet itself, and dramatic scenes from the TV series featuring exquisitely constructed sets made to replicate Mars make the Mars experience real and provide amazing visuals to savor and return to again and again.

304 pages; 200 color illustrations
9 1/8″ x 10 7/8″
© 2016

Author Bio
Ron Howard has made a lifelong career in television and film, winning numerous accolades and awards as actor, director, and producer. He is co-chair with Brian Grazer of Imagine Entertainment, which has recently partnered with National Geographic on Breakthrough as well as Red Planet.

Leonard David is an award-winning space journalist who has been reporting on space activities for over 50 years. He frequently contributes to the website as their “Space Insider Columnist” and is the coauthor of Buzz Aldrin’s Mission to Mars. In 2015, he became the first recipient of the American Astronautical Society’s (AAS) “Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History” in the category of journalism, and in 2010 he received the National Press Club Award for his space journalism.

For more information on the book – Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet — to be released October 25th, go to:

Also go to Amazon at:

Credit: Rio Grande Books

Credit: Rio Grande Books


Book Review: The Complete Space Buff’s Bucket List, by Loretta Hall; Rio Grande Books; 2016; Cost: $15.95.

Maybe it’s my old age setting in. But a new book just showed up in my mail box that is so timely.

Loretta Hall has authored The Complete Space Buff’s Bucket List – 100 Space Things to Do Before You Die.

What a romp! And as she notes herself – it’s all “tourific.”

Hall is a New Mexico-based freelance writer and nonfiction author. The book is the fourth in the Rio Grande Books “Bucket List” series – so why not space!

Hall took on the challenge and has written an absolutely delightful volume for confirmed space aficionados and others that are on the cusp of being space adventurers.

Range of intellectual and physical activities

“I have discovered many new things to do and see,” Hall writes in the opening pages of the book. Adds David Livingston, host of The Space Show: It’s an “excellent list of exciting and worthwhile things to do in your lifetime, either alone or with your family and friends.”

Points out former shuttle astronaut, Mike Mullane: “I now have a new resource to map my way back into space.”

Most items on this Bucket List include URLs for websites associated with listed items.

“I wanted to give you an idea of the order of magnitude for planning and comparison,” Hall writes. “Together, the 100 items on this list encompass a broad range of intellectual and physical activities that involve all five senses.”

Author Loretta Hall gets into the swing of things in her latest book. Credit: Jerry Hall

Author Loretta Hall gets into the swing of things in her latest book.
Credit: Jerry Hall

This is an easy read with 100 bucket list suggestions, including stops at a planetarium, a visit to a meteor crater, indoor skydiving, and a way to experience human factors training for commercial spaceflight.

Before heavenly ascension

The countdown for fun starts at #100 in the book. Subsequent pages lead to Hall’s number one slot. I won’t tell you what that is, but you’ll likely agree.

Hall also recently wrote Space Pioneers: In their Own Words, also published by Rio Grande Books.

This is a welcomed, creative, and pleasurable book for all ages – or those of us trying to quickly assemble our personal bucket list of to-do items before heavenly ascension. No worries. The book incorporates a blank list in the back of the book to write down your favorites too!

For your copy, go to:

Credit: TED Books/Simon & Schuster

Credit: TED Books/Simon & Schuster

There are two new and invaluable books on Mars, both of them ideal for those ready to settle down on the Red Planet:

How We’ll Live on Mars by Stephen Petranek

The International Mars Research Station – An exciting new plan to create a permanent human presence on Mars authored by Shaun Mark Moss.


Stephen Petranek is a career writer spanning some 40 years of publishing on science, nature, technology and politics.

How We’ll Live on Mars is a blend of those themes, nicely packaged in a nine chapter book that is well-written and researched – it’s a sheer delight to read.

TED Books is under the Simon & Schuster brand name, with this volume containing a mid-section of stunning color images.

For those still edgy about trekking to Mars, you’ll find this book comforting. The author tackles a number of “big questions” such as radiation factors and the microgravity effects of space travel on the human body – and adapting to Mars’ low gravity.

In the book, there’s a healthy dose of Elon Musk’s campaign to send humans to Mars. In addition, you’ll find some interesting discussion of terraforming the Red Planet to make Mars in Earth’s image.

This book is a unique blend of observations, bracketing the author’s view that within twenty years, humans will live on Mars.

“When the first humans set foot on Mars, the moment will be more significant in terms of technology, philosophy, history, and exploration than any that have come before it…we will no longer be a one-planet species.”

For ordering information, go to:

To read about Petranek’s TED Talk about colonizing Mars, go to:

Credit: CreateSpace

Credit: CreateSpace


Shaun Moss is an Australian computer scientist and also director of Mars Society Australia. He makes the case that settling Mars and becoming a multi-planetary species will be one of the most important steps in human evolution.

Within its 300 pages, The International Mars Research Station is alive with technical detail.

As Moss notes, the book is an exercise in aerospace engineering. The volume is loaded with creative ideas all adding up to blueprinting a near-term affordable and achievable way to send multiple international crews to Mars – and return them home safe and sound.

What I found appealing is Moss calling attention to the SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule designs, as well as the use of expandable modules by Bigelow Aerospace.

The attention to detail – from crafting international partnerships and food production to using local Martian resources and space suit requirements – makes this book a true treasure. While being a technical tour-de-force of ideas, Moss paints a clear picture of the needed pieces to send crews to Mars and sustain a human presence there.

Moss has done an impressive amount of research for this book. Even the most seasoned Mars architect will find this volume a very useful and informative resource.

For book ordering information, go to:

For a article on Moss and this how-to-do-it book, go to:

Credit: International Space Business Council 2015

Credit: International Space Business Council 2015

This just issued space careers book shows how to find an out-of-this-world job.

“Space Careers” (International Space Business Council, 2015), by Leonard David and Scott Sacknoff, contains detailed information about the many career paths in the space industry — far beyond “astronaut.”

The book is aimed at high school, college and graduate students, or people looking for jobs in the industry, and the idea is to give accurate, up-to-date information on the careers that are out there beyond just astronaut (but it gives tips on how to become an astronaut, too).

To read the full review by Sarah Lewin, Staff Writer at, go to:

Credit: NASA, ESA, D. Calzetti (University of Massachusetts), H. Ford (Johns Hopkins University), and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

Credit: NASA, ESA, D. Calzetti (University of Massachusetts), H. Ford (Johns Hopkins University), and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration


The author of a new study of evolutionary convergence argues that the development of life on Earth is predictable, meaning that similar organisms should therefore have appeared on other, Earth-like planets by now.

“The almost-certainty of ET being out there means that something does not add up, and badly. We should not be alone, but we are.”

That’s the view of leading evolutionary biologist, Simon Conway Morris, a Fellow at St John’s College, University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England. That outlook and others are carried in his new book The Runes of Evolution – How the Universe Became Self-Aware.

Rigid set of rules

Extra-terrestrials that resemble humans should have evolved on other, Earth-like planets, making it increasingly paradoxical that we still appear to be alone in the universe, Conway Morris suggests.

According to a University of Cambridge press statement, the book claims that evolution is far from random, but a predictable process that operates according to a fairly rigid set of rules.

Simon Conway Morris Credit: Map of Life website

Simon Conway Morris
Credit: Map of Life website

“If that is the case, then it follows that life similar to that on Earth would also develop in the right conditions on other, equivalent planets. Given the growing number of Earth-like planets of which astronomers are now aware, it is increasingly extraordinary that aliens that look and behave something like us have not been found,” Conway Morris contends.

Inevitable consequence

Conway Morris has previously raised the prospect that alien life, if out there, would resemble earthlings – with limbs, heads, and bodies. In his new book, he adds that any Earth-like planet should also evolve thunniform predators (like sharks), pitcher plants, mangroves, and mushrooms, among many other things.

Limbs, brains and intelligence would, similarly, be “almost guaranteed.” The traits of human-like intelligence have evolved in other species – the octopus and some birds, for example, both exhibit social playfulness – and this, Conway Morris observes, indicates that intelligence is an inevitable consequence of evolution that would characterize extraterrestrials as well.

Perplexing issue

“The number of Earth-like planets seems to be far greater than was thought possible even a few years ago,” Conway Morris notes. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that they have life, because we don’t necessarily understand how life originates. The consensus offered by convergence, however, is that life is going to evolve wherever it can.”

Credit: Map of Life website

Credit: Map of Life website


Conway Morris adds: “I would argue that in any habitable zone that doesn’t boil or freeze, intelligent life is going to emerge, because intelligence is convergent. One can say with reasonable confidence that the likelihood of something analogous to a human evolving is really pretty high. And given the number of potential planets that we now have good reason to think exist, even if the dice only come up the right way every one in 100 throws, that still leads to a very large number of intelligences scattered around, that are likely to be similar to us.”

If this is so, as the book suggests, then it makes Enrico Fermi’s famous paradox – why, if aliens exist, we have not yet been contacted – even more perplexing.


The Runes of Evolution, by Simon Conway Morris, is published by Templeton Press at:

Also, go to this Cambridge University press release:

Check out this Map of Life website at:

Credit: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Credit: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.


The Orbital Perspective – Lessons in Seeing the Big Picture from a Journey of 71 Million Miles by Ron Garan; Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.; $27.95 (Hardcover); 2015.

There have been a number of “tell-all” books authored by former space travelers. But this book tells all and more.

Ron Garan spent 178 days in space, carrying out four spacewalks. He flew on both the U.S. Space Shuttle and Russian Soyuz spacecraft, and spent 18 days at the bottom of the ocean participated in the joint NASA-NOAA, NEEMO-9 mission.

Garan has authored this book about these experiences, but also his shift in perception. He has viewed Earth from space, and gained viewpoints while working on development projects on the ground. This book is a synthesis of the two – and the result is an engaging, thought-provoking read.

Drawing from the book, you’ll find some stimulating themes:

Looking Skyward: If nations can join together to build the most complex structure ever built in space – the International Space Station — imagine what can be achieved by working together to overcome the challenges facing all here on Earth.

Looking Earthward: Gazing back at Earth from space can fill you with insight: Each and every one of us is riding through the Universe together on this spaceship we call Earth and that we are all in this together.

Looking Forward: Possibilities are only limited by our imagination and our will to act, and don’t accept the status quo on our planet. Nothing is impossible, including the elimination of suffering and conflict here on Earth.

In short, The Orbital Perspective is a call to action- how best to care for the most important space station of all: Planet Earth.

Yes, this is a book about space – filling that space with hope, creativity and collaboration.

For more information on this book, go to:

For a dedicated website related to this book, go to:

Garan has also founded the initiative Fragile Oasis, championing his “Orbital perspective” message to improve life on Earth. Go to:

By Leonard David

Credit: International Space Business Council, 2015

International Space Business Council, 2015

A new book offers the most in-depth source for understanding and finding a career in the space and satellite industry.

This book is designed for high school, college, and graduate students and job seekers of all ages.

It is my pleasure to announce the release of Space Careers, a completely-updated and revised version of the 1998 award-winning classic: Guide to Space Careers.

Fully-updated for 2015, the book is specially written for job seekers interested in the opportunities that the space and satellite industry present. Whether the reader is interested in satellite communications services, designing next generation rockets, planning future Mars missions, or monitoring the Earth’s environment, Space Careers will be a valued resource.

Career trajectory

Written by longtime space journalist Leonard David, entrepreneur Scott Sacknoff, and with a foreword from astronaut Buzz Aldrin, this award-winning book contains resources that enable the user to understand the varied activities of the industry so they can narrow and determine their areas of interest.

This guide helps you identify university programs and find scholarships and fellowships that can finance your career trajectory. It provides details on how and where to network, locate opportunities, and offers hundreds of profiles as well as links to industry organizations.

It does the work so you don’t have to.

But this book offers more than just a compilation of facts and data.

Valuable advice

Throughout the book you will find valuable advice to students and job seekers provided by leading industry professionals including Marillyn Hewson, the President & CEO of Lockheed Martin; Charles Bolden, the administrator of NASA; as well as engineers, scientists, and businesspeople working in the field.

Space Careers is a resource that needs to be shared, read, and used by students, educators, and people working in the STEM/STEAM fields [Science, Technology, Engineering, [Art] & Mathematics]. With the space industry seeking to identify and entice the next generation of workers, companies and institutions, you’ll find this volume a valuable resource.

For more details including bios of the authors, the table of contents, and ordering information, please visit:

Space Careers

By Leonard David and Scott Sacknoff

Foreword by Buzz Aldrin

International Space Business Council, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-887022-19-4

Retail Price: $20 USD

Pages: 224, trade paper

Courtesy: Michael Mackowski

Courtesy: Michael Mackowski

Here’s a personal story about space activism, a memoir by Michael Mackowski.

His recollections as a member of local chapters of the L5 Society and the National Space Institute — later to merge into the National Space Society — offer a grassroots look at early citizen space support.

The book closes with some reflections on whether those dreams of a hopeful future from the 1980s had any effect on the realities of the 2010s.

The author’s hope is that historians of the space movement will find the book to be an interesting first-hand account of grass-roots efforts to promote space exploration to the public.

Similarly, current space activists, Mackowski suggests, can learn from these examples of how to execute large pro-space events.

Michael Mackowski is an aerospace engineer whose passion for space exploration has led him to be an advocate for greater public awareness and support for America’s reach for the stars.

This engaging and thoughtful book is now available via Amazon in print and digital formats (hard copy is $8.95 plus shipping, Kindle edition is $4.95) at this link:


Book Review: Living Among Giants – Exploring and Settling the Outer Solar System by Michael Carroll; Book Publisher: Springer; $34.99 (Hardcover); 2015.

Here is a fascinating and unique look at the outer Solar System, masterfully detailed in words and artwork regarding planned and imagined future human exploration and possible colonization.

Carroll is a prominent prize-winning space artist with a flair for writing and swinging a paintbrush. This book includes numerous illustrations, among them original paintings by the author.

Right from the start, Carroll asks a picture-captioned question: “Mars is the next logical site for human habitation. But what other sites offer promise?”

Future space travelers to the realm of the gas and ice giants “will be confronted by glorious, spectacular views beyond anything experienced thus far,” the author explains. And thanks to his talented artistry, Living Among Giants has a dozen or so original paintings that Carroll produced specially for the book.

Divided into three parts – The Backdrop; Destinations; and A New Frontier – the book is an enthralling read that includes healthy sections on the early robotic intruders that crossed the great divide of space, such as the Pioneers, the Voyagers, Galileo and the Cassini spacecraft.

But the added thrill here is contemplating, after decades of robotic exploration, planting humans on Enceladus, frolicking in a cruise ship off the “coast” of Titan, and having face time with Ariel, Miranda and Triton – moons of Uranus and Neptune. This book is compelling and provocative, pointing out that landscapes of unprecedented scale and splendor await up-close eye contact.

The book includes a nicely compact section on propulsion – the ability of just getting there, be it via chemical rockets, ion drives, plasma rockets, solar sails or other modes of travel to cut across the distances involved.

There is a wilderness of worlds out there, Carroll concludes, ready to inform our culture, society, arts, and our perspectives. “They can do no less than enrich our lives, and they will continue to do so – even more deeply – as we venture out to live among the giants,” he concludes.

For more information on this book, go to:

the art of space bookcover

Book Review: The Art of Space – The History of Space Art, From the Earliest Visions to the Graphics of the Modern Era by Ron Miller; Zenith Press/Quarto Publishing Group, Minneapolis, Minnesota; $35.00 (hardcover); September 2014.

This is an impressive gathering of artwork, drawn together by Ron Miller, artist extraordinaire. The book is an eye-catching work showing how astronomy and space travel has been represented in a variety of media over the past two centuries.

The book is divided into 5 sections: Planets & Moons, Stars & Galaxies, Spaceships & Space Stations, Space Colonies & Cities; and Aliens. Each section is rich with both artwork, but also an opening text and informative captions.

As Miller notes: “The advent of space exploration enabled some artists to create space paintings of unprecedented accuracy, and it enabled others to abandon realism entirely, leaving them free to explore the impact of space on humanity in other ways.”

That sweep of accuracy to castle in the sky sketches is the fuel that has powered generations to embrace space exploration, the beauty of adventure, and ponder the strangeness of the unfamiliar.

The reader will enjoy some spotlighted space artists of the past and present, from Chesley Bonestell, several astronaut/cosmonaut artists, to the works of Don Davis and Pat Rawlings.

In its concluding pages, The Art of Space has a helpful “Further Resources” page that includes artists’ websites and also where to see space art.

The book includes two nicely written forewords by Carolyn Porco, the Cassini Imaging Team Leader at the Space Science Institute, and Dan Durda, a gifted artist and space scientist at Southwest Research Institute.

As Durda explains: “Art and exploration have been long and intimate partners, each inspiring the other through history as we expanded the frontiers of new lands and pressed the boundaries of human activity with novel technologies.”

You’ll find Miller’s book an excellent read and a visual feast – a volume that is an inspirational bridge between art and exploration.

For more information on this book, go to:

Griffith Observatory Event