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The CASE FOR MARS Hardcover – October 16, 1996
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"For our generation and many that will follow, Mars is the New World," writes Zubrin. This book went to press serendipitously, just as NASA was making its startling if heavily-qualified announcement that simple life may have once existed on the fourth rock from the sun. Zubrin doesn't spend an enormous amount of time arguing why Mars exploration is desirable -- we all want astronauts to go there, don't we? -- but rather devotes the bulk of this book explaining how it can happen on a sensible, bare-bones budget of $20-30 billion and a "travel light and live off the land" philosophy.
From Publishers Weekly
Human settlement on Mars need not await the development of gigantic interplanetary spaceships, anti-matter propulsion systems or orbiting space bases, assert the authors of this exciting, visionary report. Instead, the "Mars Direct" plan?developed in 1990 by astronautical engineer Zubrin, and presented to NASA, where it has won supporters?calls for sending a crew and their artificial habitat directly to Mars via the upper stage of the same booster rocket that lifted them to Earth orbit. Then the crew will live off the land, growing greenhouse crops, tapping subsurface groundwater, manufacturing useful materials, constructing plastic domes and brick structures the size of shopping malls. Geothermal power would be tapped from hot regions near once-active volcanoes. Zubrin, senior engineer at Martin Marietta, and Wagner, a former editor of Ad Astra, weaken their case by arguing that a nascent human civilization on Mars will revive Earth's frontier spirit and American democracy, saving Western civilization from technological stagnation. Nevertheless, their detailed blueprint makes a fast-track mission to Mars?with an estimated price tag of $20-$30 billion?seem remarkably doable.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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The book first published in 1996, not to mention his continuing work as the President of The Mars Society has certainly earned him a place among the greatest minds in the field of space exploration(and its advocacy), such as Robert H. Goddard Hermann Oberth, and Wernher von Braun. The Case for Mars should be required reading for NASA employees as well as Congress.
Currently we have the Dutch company Mars One are recruiting people to be part of a permanent human settlement on Mars by 2023; the US commercial firm SpaceX have their Red Dragon proposal to put a sample-return mission to Mars by 2018 (seen as a necessary precursor by NASA to a human exploration); the Chinese have a long term plan for non-crewed flights to Mars by 2033 and crewed phase of missions to Mars during 2040-2060. Although the funding mechanisms and motivations are different these plans all make use of one idea or more from book The Case for Mars (Free Press, 1996, 2011). Written by aerospace engineer and founder of the Mars Society, Robert Zubrin, it is a meticulous and plausible way to settle Mars. Aldrin’s book is more broad and his ideas fit well with current technologies, US aspirations for asteroid capture and exploitation, and NASA’s focus on the planet Mars.
The veteran Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, is still surprising us with its discoveries, more than nine years after the completion of its 90 day primary mission. While the sprightly youngster Curiosity is regularly rewriting and deepening our understanding of Mars - still only half-way through its three year primary mission.
Appreciating what it takes to get a scientific laboratory wheeling its way across Mars is enticingly portrayed in another new book Red Rover (Basic Books, 2013). This first-hand account is written by Roger Wiens, lead scientist for ChemCam - the laser zapping remote chemical analytical instrument onboard the rover Curiosity. It covers his involvement in robotic space exploration from his initiation in 1990 on the NASA Genesis probe to the joyous moment when Curiosity zapped its first rock in early 2013. If this piques your curiosity then the earlier Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity, and the exploration of the Red planet (Scribe, 2005) is well worth tracking down. A passionate insight into the 2004 twin rover Spirit and Opportunity mission by Steve Squyres, the mission’s scientific principal investigator.
These robotic missions are prudent preparatory steps to Aldrin provides and engaging overview of the technical, economic and political reasons for humanity to journey to Mars. It has been a self-professed vision of his since his return from the Moon. This books, though, represents Aldrin’s first attempt to put the whole of the puzzle, his Unified Space Vision, together in one place. For a more technical read on the settlement and exploration of Mars then Zubrin’s revised and updated The Case for Mars (Free press, 2011) and Marswalk One: first steps on a new planet (Praxis, 2005) by astronautical historian, writer and designers David Shayler, Andrew Salmon and Michael Shayler are also recommended. Mission to Mars though is a clarion call, essential reading for anyone interested in humanity’s next big step.
This review was first published on dragonlaughing