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Postcards from Mars: The First Photographer on the Red Planet 0th Edition

39 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0525949855
ISBN-10: 0525949852
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Editorial Reviews Review

A Look Inside Postcards from Mars
(Click on Images to Enlarge)

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Awe-inspiring. . . . Exquisite detail. . . . Glorious. -- Natural History

Jim Bell has compiled a book of photos that puts our neighboring planet in sharp focus. -- USA Today

The quality and volume of photos coming back from Spirit and Opportunity far exceeds anything that has come back from Mars before. -- American Photo

[Bell] tells the story of preparing the spacecraft for launch and of the rovers' arrival on Mars in a conversational tone, with just the right mix of detail and personal point of view. . . . The quality of the printing is high, reproducing intense colors, dramatic shadows, and fine details. -- The Planetary Society

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult (November 16, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525949852
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525949855
  • Product Dimensions: 11.8 x 0.9 x 11.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #938,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jim Bell is a scientist, author, and an extremely active and prolific public communicator of science and space exploration. He is a Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, an Adjunct Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University, and President of The Planetary Society. He is a frequent contributor to popular astronomy and science magazines like Sky & Telescope and Scientific American, and to radio shows and internet blogs about astronomy and space. He has appeared on television on the NBC "Today" show, on CNN's "This American Morning," on the PBS "Newshour," and on the Discovery and National Geographic cable channels. He has written a number of books that showcase some of the most spectacular stories and images from the space program: "Postcards from Mars" (Dutton/Penguin, 2006), "Mars 3-D" (Sterling, 2008), "Moon 3-D" (Sterling, 2009), "The Space Book" (Sterling, 2013), and "The Interstellar Age" (Dutton, 2015).

Jim grew up in Rhode Island and received his B.S. in Planetary Science and Aeronautics from Caltech in 1987 and his Ph.D. in Geology & Geophysics from the University of Hawaii in 1992. His research primarily focuses on the geology, geochemistry, and mineralogy of planets, moons, asteroids, and comets using data obtained from telescopes and spacecraft missions. Jim spent 3 years as a National Research Council postdoctoral research fellow at NASA's Ames Research Center in the early 1990s.

Jim is an active planetary scientist and has been heavily involved in many NASA robotic space exploration missions, including the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR), Mars Pathfinder, Comet Nucleus Tour, Mars Exploration Rover, Mars Odyssey Orbiter, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the Mars Science Laboratory rover mission. As a member of the Mars Exploration Rover team, Jim has served as the lead scientist in charge of the Panoramic camera (Pancam) color, stereoscopic imaging system on the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. As a professional scientist, Jim has published more than 30 first-authored and 140 co-authored research papers in peer reviewed scientific journals, has authored or co-authored more than 400 short abstracts and scientific conference presentations, and has edited two scientific books for Cambridge University Press (one on the NEAR mission, the other on the surface composition of Mars). He has been an active user of the Hubble Space Telescope, and of ground based telescopes at Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii.

To arrange a speaking engagement with Jim Bell, please contact the Penguin Speakers Bureau at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Cheung Sze Leung on December 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Nowadays, astronomical images can be viewed as digital form on your computer monitor so easily. However, there is a true difference between the perspectives you seen from the computer monitor compared to a high resolution print. Although I believed that I have seen many images obtained by the latest Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, I am still amazed by the high quality prints presented in the book "Postcard From Mars".

Working as the lead scientist for the Pancam, Jim Bell shared with us some of the greatest images on the Gusev Crater and the Meridiani Planum processed by him. Many of these photos are astonishing, the vastness and emptiness of Mars can use no words to describe.

Besides the wonderful scenes, the story and scientific discoveries of the rovers are also well written by Jim. As a first person working in the Mars Exploration Rover mission, he told the background story of the planning and the implementation of the mission, how exciting are the blueberries found on the Meridiani Planum and show the wetter ancient Mars. His words are simple, concise and often wit, even beginner can easily understand.

If you would like to know more about Mars, space exploration or new developments in science, this book is definitely your choice.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By STEPHEN PLETKO on February 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover

"My goal in this book is to share the beauty, desolation, grandeur, and sometimes plain old alien strangeness of the [fourth planet from the Sun] Mars, that has been revealed to us through the [Mars Exploratory] Rover [MER] cameras. In editing the enormous number of photographs we've taken down to 150 or so [of the best images] included here, I chose images that were representative of different phases of each rover's journey, and of major scientific successes (or occasionally disappointments) along the way. I've included some of the history and the stories behind the [MER] mission [in the text that accompanies the images] and the pictures as well."

The above is found in the preface of this mesmerizing and historical book by associate astronomy professor at Cornell University, Dr. Jim Bell, "the lead scientist for the Pancam color imaging system on the NASA [MER]...missions." Note that the two MER robotic vehicles named "Spirit" and "Opportunity" (that are still functioning on Mars while this review is being written) are personally my favorite Martians.

This book has the following sections entitled as follows:

(1) The first thing to photograph

(2) With Spirit in Gusev Crater

(3) An Opportunity in Meridiani [Planum]

(4) Postcript

In section two readers follow the MER vehicle Spirit as it lands on Jan. 4, 2004 in the 160-km-wide (about 100 mile wide) impact crater named Gusev, "about 15 [degrees] south of [Mar's] equator." It explores this site and eventually ventures out from the crater taking magnificent photographs all along its journey. There are more than sixty awe-inspiring, mainly color images in this section.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jack Kennedy Jr. on January 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As the two MER Opportunity and Spirit continue their treks about the surface of Mars, Bell's book is a significant contribution to the public awarness of the MER program and Mars the planet. If the reader seeks a detailed scientific knowledge of Mars, I would suggest another book. Bell provides the book owner the glorious images of the success of the two rovers going about Mars today. The images and their display are incrediable. The book is fitting tribute to the science team that lived on Mars Sol time to provide them. The maps of the treks of the rovers are essential to the reader to gain insight as to the real distances the vehicles have traversed about the planet. There is so, so, so much to explore. So, if you want to get a sense of the surface of The Red Planet and see what images the rovers have produced beyond their 3 years of exploration buy this book. I did. It is a great coffee table converstaion addition too. But, in fairness to the reader, if your looking to get the detailed scientific knowlwdge of Mars today, you should supplement your purchase with equally recent published books provding analysis of the sceintific details. The visualzations contained in the pages of this book are, nonetheless, priceless. This book should be in every college and university library today! This book truly gives meaning to the saying " every picture is worth a thousand words!" In this book, a thousand words per picture would be to minimize the product.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on February 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
POSTCARDS FROM MARS: THE FIRST PHOTOGRAPHER ON THE RED PLANET offers more photos fro a mission originally only planned to last ninety Mars days - and which is beginning its 7th year. The Mars Rove continues to transmit data and photos and over 250,000 photos have been received to date, with new discoveries being made regularly. Available for the first time in paperback with a new foreword from Bill Nye, this shares color images from the mission in a fine oversized presentation perfect for any astronomy or general lending collection.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By No Prob Rob on March 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase

This book caught my eye at the local public library, and I decided I wanted my own copy.

The nearly 200-page large format book contains scores of beautiful pictures of the Martian landscape, courtesy of the Mars rovers. Many of the pictures are full-page; some even span pages.

It begins with an introduction to the rovers, including pictures of their prototyping, assembly and launch. But it quickly takes us to the surface of Mars.

While no book yet contains all the detailed data analyses sent back from the rovers (the data continue coming in to this day), that is not really the purpose of this book. This book is designed to be seen on your coffee table and inspire all those who see it to say, "Wow!"

And in that, it succeeds.

In summary: A terrific book documenting the journeys of the Mars rovers across the stark, yet beautiful Martian landscape. Add it to your collection; you won't be disappointed!

(While you're at it, order an extra copy or two for that "young explorer" in your life -- or donate a copy to a school or library. Yes, it's that good!)
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