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Science Books

June 30, 2005

Mars On Earth: The Adventures Of Space Pioneers In The High Arctic
Robert Zubrin (2004)
ISBN: 1585423505

Robert Zubrin, an astronautical engineer and author of The Case for Mars and Entering Space, offers an emotionally rousing chronicle of Apollo mission veterans endeavoring to re-ignite the hunger and passion for space exploration. "The Earth is not the only world. There are billions of potential homes for life. The first of these is now within reach," says Zubrin of Mars. We get a sense from Mars on Earth that had the space program not rested on its laurels after the moon landings, there might already be a Martian colony in existence today. Zubrin's narrative is an insider's story of how he and a team of like-minded individuals conceived of a project that would significantly add to our understanding of the Martian environment. Their 'science project' consisted not of a proposed mission to the red planet, but finding locations here on Earth that were analogous to the conditions that an astronaut might experience on Mars. They were looking for locations with extreme environmental conditions, so an Arctic station was set up, the subsequent success of which led to the construction of two more 'Mars on Earth' stations in the Utah desert and in Iceland. Zubrin's book does more than explain the logistical and technical hurdles that arise out of the project, as he couches the many abstract problems faced by the team within a very gritty and human landscape. The book is also visually striking, with diagrams and stunning photographs to help the reader better imagine the team's extraordinary experiences on a virtual Mars.

Space Station Odyssey: The Making of an Astronaut
Thomas D. Jones (2005)
ISBN: 1588341887

If you've ever wondered what it would be like to venture out into space, or ever had the 'need for speed', then Thomas Jones' Space Station Odyssey is for you. Over-achiever is one way to describe NASA veteran turned author Thomas D. Jones. After flying B-52 airplanes during the Cold War and gaining a PhD in Planetary Science, Jones signed up for the physically taxing calling of astronaut. He looked the perfect candidate for space, and ended up participating in four shuttle missions in all. However, Jones' career path was cut short when the space shuttle Columbia exploded. His book reveals that the shuttle disaster was a reality-check for many astronauts, and how he ended up questioning whether going into space was worth the price. After reading the book you get the sense that Jones is very much the family man, which would play a huge part in any decision made on space travel in the shadow of Columbia. One thing for sure; space travel is obviously not a genetic trait, as his mother is terrified of flying. Having all that technical knowledge stored in his head, Jones has the ability to explain in detail what happens during a shuttle mission, and why space projects and their applications are important to humanity. The book also includes some incredible photographs, most of which were taken from space, to heighten the reading experience.

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