A Traveler's Guide to Mars: The Mysterious Landscapes of the Red Planet

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In this extraordinary Baedeker—accessible, up-to-date, and prodigiously illustrated with photographs from Mariner 9, Viking, Pathfinder, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the ongoing mars Global Surveyor spacecraft—visitors will encounter:

  • Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the solar system, rising three times as high as Mount Everest and covering an area the size of Missouri
  • Tharsis Planitia, the "high plains of Mars," with plains rising 29,000 feet—wide enough to cover Europe.
  • Valles Marineris, an equatorial canyon so vast that America's Grand Canyon would be a mere tributary.

Plus: the "face" on Mars, the White Rock, the "Canals" of Xanthe—and the first possible evidence of an ancient Martian life-form.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An award-winning science communicator and a participating scientist in the U.S. Mars Global Surveyor mission, Harris (Mars Underground) melds enjoyable prose with breathtaking pictures in a cleverly conceived "scientific Baedecker" that is likely to delight expert and lay readers alike. Hartmann presents a comprehensive look at Mars, all the while comparing geologic processes on the red planet with those on earth. The three major Martian eras spanning the planet's 4.5 billion years serve as the book's major sections, with chapters focusing on various amazing geological formations, such as Olympic Mons, a volcano three times as high as Mt. Everest; the north polar dune field, "the grandest, and perhaps the largest, tract of such dunes anywhere in the solar system"; and Valles Marineris, "a fantastic canyon system" so large that the Grand Canyon pales in comparison. The book is filled with pictures from virtually all of the U.S. missions to Mars, which Hartmann is uniquely qualified to interpret. He also addresses an array of fascinating side issues, such as the possibility of life on Mars and how meteorites originating on Mars have ended up on Earth. A series of sidebars called "My Martian Chronicles" details Hartmann's participation in deciphering some of the geologic secrets of our neighboring planet. The book works well as a whole and can be easily browsed with great pleasure. Color illus., 4 gatefolds. (July) Forecast: This is perfectly timed to catch the main August event: Mars will be closer to Earth and appear larger and brighter than at any time in recent history. Workman plans a 10-city author tour and $30,000 marketing campaign. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-A perfect choice for students who are interested in Mars or space exploration. Following an opening chapter discussing what humans have believed and have come to verify about the red planet, the author discusses the three major eras of its 4.5 billion year history. He describes various regions, offering a geological tour of the craters, volcanoes, and the face of Mars, making it easy for readers to "visit," much as any travel book would. Interspersed throughout are boxed inserts highlighting weather, hazards, financial considerations, geology, etc. Also appearing periodically are sections called "My Martian Chronicles" in which the astronomer describes his own work and experiences in his quest to learn more about this unusual planet. His writing style will make teens want to keep reading. Hundreds of outstanding photographs and digital images clarify concepts and sharpen subtle landscapes. Many are close-ups reproduced from the work of landing craft; most are in color. If you can have only one title about Mars, this is the one to buy.-Claudia Moore, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761126065
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/1/2003
  • Pages: 450
  • Sales rank: 1,454,198
  • Product dimensions: 5.26 (w) x 8.92 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

William K. Hartmann is the author, most recently, of A Traveler’s Guide to Mars and co-author of Out of the Cradle. He is an internationally known scientist, writer, and painter, and winner of the first Carl Sagan Medal from the American Astronomical Society. He has an asteroid—#3341—named after him. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.

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Read an Excerpt


Mars is half the size of Earth but has roughly the same land area. Early science fiction portrayed Mars as totally alien and unfamiliar, but some aspects of the Martian surface would seem surprisingly recognizable to a human visitor. The Martian day is a bit longer than 24 hours—almost the same as Earth's. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. The land is a cold but beautiful desert of sand, gravel, rocks, lava, dunes, and strata. Seasonss of spring, summer, fall, and winter follow each other as on Earth, except that they add up to a year that is about twice as long as that on Earth, consisting on 669 Martian days.


On Mars, typical daily air temperatures range from about -87 degrees C (-125 degrees F) at night to a "balmy" -25 degrees C (-13 degrees F) in the afternoon. The soil and rocks absorb sunlight and become much warmer than the air; summer afternoon soil temperatures can rise to 10 degrees C (50 degrees F) or higher. However, soils in the morning and evening, as well as soils just below the surface, are usually much colder, with temperatures of -70 degrees C (-94 degrees F).

The atmosphere of Mars is very thin, almost pure carbon dioxide, with an air pressure typically just less than 1 percent of that on Earth's surface. This is still much less than the pressure of the thin air at 35,000 feet, where commercial jets cruise; it is more similar to the pressure encountered by a high-flying spy jet, 110,000 feet above Earth.

To wander among the dusty hills of Mars, you'd need a space suit similar to that worn by Apollo astronauts on the Moon. Because the soil and rocks of Mars can be much colder than those on the daylit Moon, on which Apollo astronauts landed, Martian visitors would need boots and gloves that are especially insulated.

A particular hazard facing the space-suited explorer is dust. Apollo astronauts had problems with the fine lunar dust; on Mars, this could be worse because occasional strong winds can blow the dust into suit joints, oxygen regulators, and vehicle parts. Local dust storms may strongly reduce visibility and cause blinding "brownout" conditionslike arctic whiteouts, during which visibility drops to a yard or two, destroying all sense of direction.

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