Mars is ingrained in our culture, from H. G. Wells’s 1898 novel The War of the Worlds to Looney Tunes‘s hapless Marvin the Martian to David Bowie’s extraterrestrial spiders. Ancient mythologies defined the planet as a violent harbinger of war, stargazers puzzled over its peculiar motion, and astrologers defined human personalities by its position.
Science fact is now surpassing science fiction. Robot vehicles have trundled across the planet’s surface, beaming back views of its rust-orange surface, and have tested soil and atmosphere to get clues about how the planet has evolved and whether it supported (or supports) life.
There are many more Mars missions planned over the next decade. And while little green Martians are now firmly the preserve of literature and film, there is growing evidence that the now-arid, frozen planet once had been warm, wet, and possibly thronging with microbial life. One day in the foreseeable future, humans are likely to set foot on the Red Planet.
What are the challenges involved, and how are we preparing for them? Is there a long-term future for humans on Mars?
4th Rock from the Sun examines Mars in its entirety–its nature, attributes, and impact on the 3rd Rock’s culture; its environmental science and geology; and its potential for human colonization. Writing in an engaging manner, Nicky Jenner provides a comprehensive and spellbinding guide to the Red Planet.