Overview

Since the beginning of human history Mars has been an alluring dream—the stuff of legends, gods, and mystery. The planet most like ours, it has still been thought impossible to reach, let alone explore and inhabit.

Now with the advent of a revolutionary new plan, all this has changed. Leading space exploration authority Robert Zubrin has crafted a daring new blueprint, Mars ...
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Case for Mars

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Overview

Since the beginning of human history Mars has been an alluring dream—the stuff of legends, gods, and mystery. The planet most like ours, it has still been thought impossible to reach, let alone explore and inhabit.

Now with the advent of a revolutionary new plan, all this has changed. Leading space exploration authority Robert Zubrin has crafted a daring new blueprint, Mars Direct, presented here with illustrations, photographs, and engaging anecdotes.

The Case for Mars is not a vision for the far future or one that will cost us impossible billions. It explains step-by-step how we can use present-day technology to send humans to Mars within ten years; actually produce fuel and oxygen on the planet's surface with Martian natural resources; how we can build bases and settlements; and how we can one day "terraform" Mars—a process that can alter the atmosphere of planets and pave the way for sustainable life.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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. Nov.
Library Journal
Zubrin, a senior engineer with Martin Marietta, and science writer Wagner (Inside Compuserve, New Riders, 1995), here present the case for Zubrin's Mars Direct plan for sending manned missions to the Red Planet in the near future. Zubrin proposes to lower dramatically the lift-off weight, and thus the cost, of manned Mars missions by using off-the-shelf hardware whenever possible but especially through a conceptual breakthrough that centers on using in situ Martian resources to manufacture the rocket fuel needed for the return journey. This would eliminate the requirement of hauling the total fuel load from Earth, thereby reducing the cost NASA's "business as usual" approach of $450 billion to $50 billion. It's a visionary proposal, but Zubrin makes a convincing case, arguing that eventually humankind will terraform Mars to make its climate more earthlike for future generations of colonists. The recent discovery of possible ancient Martian microbe fossils, plus the launch of the unmanned Mars Surveyor mission this fall, will likely create demand for this title. Recommended for academic and public libraries.-Thomas J. Frieling, Bainbridge Coll., Ga.
Kirkus Reviews
Zubrin is an aeronautical engineer at Martin Marietta, Wagner the former editor of the National Space Society's magazine, Ad Astra, and together they make a forceful argument for the exploration and settlement of Mars.

Zubrin has long advocated the "Mars Direct" plan, which could get off the ground for $30 billion, in contrast to the $450- billion Space Exploration Initiative (SEI) timidly proposed by President Bush and quickly torpedoed in Congress. SEI was to take 30 years and make use of a space station (where components of the mission would be assembled), and it featured elaborate safety plans. But this is the frontier, Zubrin says, and risk is inherent when we venture forth. The most radical feature of the Mars Direct plan is the manufacture of propellants (for getting around while there and for getting back) on the surface of Mars by an unmanned module before the arrival of astronauts. But Zubrin and Wagner's discussion makes this idea, and the plan in general, seem reasonable rather than radical, and their plan would clearly save money. A mission that doesn't have to carry return fuel could use rockets that already exist, such as the Russian Energia. Mars Direct would also utilize conjunction trajectories (that is, launches when Mars is in line with Earth outward from the sun), avoiding the opposition trajectories the SEI plan advocated, and it allows for much more time to be spent exploring the surface of Mars. The authors are propagandists, so dismissive of NASA's plans that they call them "silly," but they are persuasive and even demonstrate a shrewd grasp of political realities, going so far as to incorporate Newt Gingrich's thinking with regard to privatizing the Mars Direct mission.

With exposure on CNN, a vigorous presence on the Internet, and a new groundswell of support at NASA, this plan may well prove to be the one, at long last, to fly.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451665765
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2011
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 314,522
  • File size: 9 MB

Meet the Author

Robert Zubrin, formerly a senior engineer at Lockheed Martin, is the founder of Pioneer Astronautics, a space-exploration research and development firm. Currently chairman of the executive committee of the National Space Society, Dr. Zubrin lives with his family in Indian Hills, Colorado.
Sir Arthur C. Clarke is the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey and many other award-winning books of science fiction and fact.
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Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface
1 Mars Direct 1
2 From Kepler to the Space Age 19
3 Finding a Plan 45
4 Getting There 75
5 Killing the Dragons, Avoiding the Sirens 113
6 Exploring Mars 139
7 Building the Base on Mars 171
8 The Colonization of Mars 217
9 Terrraforming Mars 247
10 The View from Earth 273
Epilogue: The Significance of the Martian Frontier 295
Special Addendum 307
Glossary 325
Notes 331
References 335
Index 337
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Preface

The time has come for America to set itself a bold new goal in space. The recent celebrations of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Apollo Moon landings have reminded us of what we as nation once accomplished, and by so doing have put the question to us: Are we still a nation of pioneers? Do we choose to make the efforts required to continue as the vanguard of human progress, a people of the future, or will we allow ourselves to be a people of the past, one whose accomplishments are celebrated only in museums? When the fiftieth anniversary arrives, will our posterity honor it as the touchstone of a frontier pushing tradition that they continue? Or will they look upon it much as a seventh century Roman may have once gazed upon the aqueducts and other magnificent feats of classical architecture still visible among the ruins, saying to himself in amazement, "We once built that?"

There can be no progress without a goal. The American space program, begun so brilliantly with Apollo and its associated programs, has spent most of the subsequent twenty years floundering without direction. We need a central overriding purpose to drive our space program forward. At this point in history, that focus can only be the human exploration and settlement of Mars.

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun, about 50 percent farther out than Earth, making it a colder place than our home planet. While daytime temperatures on Mars sometimes get up to 17° centigrade (about 63° Fahrenheit), at night the thermometer drops to -90°C (-130°F). Because the average temperature on Mars is below the freezing point, there is no liquid water today on its surface. But this was not always the case. Photographs of dry riverbeds on the Martian surface taken from orbital spacecraft show that in its distant past Mars was much warmer and wetter than it is today. For this reason, Mars is the most important target for the search for extraterrestrial life, past or present, in our solar system. The Martian day is very similar to that of Earth -- 24 hours and 37 minutes -- and the planet rotates on an axis with a 24° tilt virtually equal to that of Earth, and thus has four seasons of similar relative severity to our own. Because the Martian year is 669 Martian days (or 686 Earth days), however, each of these seasons is nearly twice as long as those on Earth. Mars is a big place; although its diameter is only half that of Earth, the fact that it is not covered with oceans gives the Red Planet a solid surface area equal to that of all of Earth's continents combined. At its closest, Mars comes within 60 million kilometers of our world; at its farthest, about 400 million kilometers. Using present day space propulsion systems, a one-way voyage to Mars would take about six months‹ much longer than the three-day trip required by the Apollo missions to reach the Moon, but hardly beyond human experience. In the nineteenth century immigrants from Europe frequently took an equal time to sail to Australia. And, as we'll see, the technology required for such a journey is well within our reach.

In fact, as this book goes to press, NASA scientists have announced a startling discovery revealing strong circumstantial evidence of past microbial life within Antarctic rock samples that had previously been ejected from Mars by meteoric impact. The evidence includes complex organic molecules, magnetite, and other typical bacterial mineralogical residues, and ovoid structures consistent with bacterial forms. NASA calls this evidence compelling but not conclusive. If it is the remains of life, it may well be evidence of only the most modest representatives of an ancient Martian biosphere, whose more interesting and complex manifestations are still preserved in fossil beds on Mars. To find them though, it will take more than robotic eyes and remote control. To find them, we'll need human hands and human eyes roving the Red Planet.

Copyright© 1996 by Robert Zubrin

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2007

    Fun to read and full of hard to find information

    If you are looking for a book to get a youth interested in science this is perfect. A blend of science, philosophy and engineering it was as much fun as the better juviniles I read from the golden age of science fiction. The most exciting thing is that everything that Mr Zubrin suggests is modern engineering. No new breakthru's are needed, we could be on Mars within a decade for only 13% of NASA's current budget. This book is also an example how one man can transform thinking on a subject. Highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2003

    I'm just a few pages into this book

    and already I'm hooked! Zurbin gives a straight up appraisal of the current lethargy at NASA, and our need as a nation to set a bold, new agenda of exploration and discovery. I love the science in this work! Zurbin lays out his MARS DIRECT plan in specific details. Why he isn't in charge of NASA is beyond me. Our age needs thinkers and dreamers like Zurbin. I can't wait to finish this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2000

    The Colonization of Mars

    This is a great book. Earth is out of undiscovered frontiers, Mars is the next great land of opportunity! This book explains the colonization in DETAIL and how we could do it TODAY. This books really grabs your attention...I couldn't put it down, read the entire thing in a day. All I can say is 'BUY IT,' you won't be disappointed.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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