September 3, 2021
Mars Furor, a recent virtual event for the Lowell Observatory‘s Pluto Circle donors, featured University of Arizona Press authors William Sheehan, as well as Jennifer Putnam, PhD Student, Birkbeck College, University of London. The two discussed our fascination with the red planet from Schiaparelli and Lowell through the Mars rovers of 2021.
Sheehan’s new book, Discovering Mars, A History of Observation and Exploration of the Red Planet, with co-author Jim Bell, delves in to the history of the study and exploration of Mars.
Discovering Mars vividly conveys the way our understanding of this other planet has grown from earliest times to the present. The story is epic in scope—an Iliad or Odyssey for our time, at least so far largely without the folly, greed, lust, and tragedy of those ancient stories. Instead, the narrative of our quest for the Red Planet has showcased some of our species’ most hopeful attributes: curiosity, cooperation, exploration, and the restless drive to understand our place in the larger universe. Sheehan and Bell have written an ambitious first draft of that narrative even as the latest chapters continue to be added both by researchers on Earth and our robotic emissaries on and around Mars, including the latest: the Perseverance rover and its Ingenuity helicopter drone, which set down in Mars’s Jezero Crater in February 2021.