- Series: TED Books
- Hardcover: 96 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster/ TED (July 7, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1476784760
- ISBN-13: 978-1476784762
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 96 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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How We'll Live on Mars (TED Books)
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About the Author
Stephen Petranek’s career of more than forty years in the publishing world is marked by numerous prizes and awards for excellent writing on science, nature, technology, politics, economics, and more. He has been editor-in-chief of the world’s largest science magazine, Discover, the editor of The Washington Post’s magazine, founding editor and editor-in-chief of This Old House magazine for Time Inc., senior editor for science at Life Magazine, and group editor-in-chief of Weider History Group’s ten history magazines. His TED talk, 10 Ways the World Could End, has been viewed over a million times. He is now the editor of Breakthrough Technology Alert, for which he finds the investment opportunities that create true value and move the human race forward.
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Top customer reviews
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The author, Stephen Petranek, takes the Mars of what modern science has revealed to us through it’s probes, from Mariner to Curiosity and what theses probes have analyzed and found. A brief history of rocketry and the proposals of using them for Mars exploration are also covered, from Robert Goddard and Werner von Braun in the early 20th century all the way down to Elon Musk of SpaceX and the Dutch entrepreneurs, Bas Lansdorp and Arno Wielders, who proposed the Mars One missions, being one way trips to Mars where people would go and live out the rest of their lives on the red planet.
In landing on Mars, Petranek anticipates what may go wrong, such as drilling for water through rock and permafrost and using the wrong drill bits. Problems such as these are those the average person, and a rocket scientist would not anticipate. He describes the climate, the thin atmosphere, the gases of which it is composed, and the radiation coming from the Sun and space, and how the first settlers will have to deal with them.
In the last two chapters, he describes terraforming, making Mars more like Earth where one can live without spacesuits, and why we must go there. The main reason is simply that we have to.
I agree. Many people say that Mars is so dead and desolate (it is) that no one will want to go there. I believe, that with the terraforming, and the minerals it holds that people will want to mine to make money, it will attract the right kind of settlers. There’s another reason: Earth is getting overpopulated, and troubles throughout the world, such as war and starvation, are multiplying, and people will want to escape that, going anywhere no matter what. Any place, rather than staying where they are and suffering.
My own view is that we will, and must, settle and industrialize near Earth space, being the Moon and near Earth asteroids first before venturing on to Mars. These are in Earth’s neighborhood, and we need to establish state of the art transportation and life support systems, along with bases that will support a trip to Mars before venturing there. It may take 40 years, or 20, who knows.
One thing I do like is the Mars One project, sending people on a one way trip where they will learn survival skills and to develop the resources there while we still develop the Moon and asteroids. Unfortunately, they do not (yet) have the financing.
This book is brief, and the predicted date of first landing here is 2027. Whether or not we make it on time, this book provides a good vision on how we can handle the challenges. The Moon and near Earth space is not mentioned here, but that, in this case, is irrelevant.
As I stated, I myself believe in a step by step approach to Mars, going to the near Earth asteroids, the Moon, then Mars, then the asteroids between Mars and Jupiter (where the book ends), and eventually, out to the stars. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves!
Overall, the book was an encouraging look into the fourth planet. I have full faith in Mr. Musk and various space agencies around the world to bring us to Mars within my lifetime, and I enjoy reading books like this one to get a good idea of how we’ll be able to accomplish it. I could have read a much more dense and technical book than this one and been perfectly content, but if you’re looking for a good overview, this is your book. On the other hand, if you are looking for an in depth analysis, this will leave you wanting. If you already know the history of space exploration and Spacex, only about half of the book is new knowledge. Similarly, if you know about Mars landing plans, little of the second half will likely add to your knowledge base: extracting water and creating shelter from Martian soil are not the most revolutionary ideas. Two things that stood out to me, the author puts quite a bit of stock in the warming of Mars through a space mirror, which I imagine would be too cost prohibitive, and reads almost like a Popular Science in the 1950’s forecasting “the next big thing” in technology – none of which ever came to fruition. Secondly, the author’s talk of genetic modification of humans to fit better on Mars seems to care too much about our *ability* to genetically modify than our *desire* to genetically modify. I’m not confident that even in 100 years people will be comfortable with altering their genes significantly enough to be able to survive on Mars and not the Earth, but that’s just me.
I enjoyed the book and flew through it in one sitting. If you’re interested in Mars, it’s certainly worth reading, although I would wait until there is a sale due to its short length. If the topics discussed in this book interest you, I would recommend reading The Martian by Andy Wier to get more in depth and have an interesting story as well, I feel like I learned more from The Martian than I did from this, although it was a novel.