The Planet Mars
A History of Observation and Discovery
In this timely and vividly written account, William Sheehan traces human fascination with Mars back to the naked-eye observers of the planet. He recalls the early telescopic observers who first made out enigmatic markings and polar caps on its surface. Through lively historical anecdotes, he describes in detail the debate over the so-called canals of Mars, which encouraged speculation that the planet might be inhabited. Finally, Sheehan describes more recent theories about the planet, leading up to the present, when unmanned spacecraft have enabled us to make giant strides in exploration.
Well documented and sparked with human interest, this book will be a useful companion and guide in interpreting the barrage of headlines about Mars that is sure to come over the next few years. Amateurs will appreciate the contributions that have been made to Martian studies by people like themselves, and professionals will find much original material that has never before been published. The American Mars Global Surveyor is scheduled for launch in November 1996, and soon after the American Mars Pathfinder will make its way toward the red planet. A Russian mission consisting of an orbiter and two landers will be launched in October 1997. These space travelers will write a whole new chapter in the dramatic story of Mars, a planet whose exploration has only just begun. Astronomy Book Club main selection and selections of Book-of-the-Month Club and Quality Paperback Book Club.