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Magnificent Mars [Hardcover]

Ken Croswell
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 21 2003 0743226011 978-0743226011 1
Mars has long offered the prospect of another living world near Earth. Although NASA's first spacecraft dashed visions of little green men tending canals, recent voyages have painted a picture of an intriguing planet that may have once resembled Earth, with warmth, water, and possibly life. Mars may answer the great question "Are we alone?"; for if Mars, like Earth, gave rise to life, then trillions of other worlds throughout the universe have surely done the same.

Harvard-trained astronomer Ken Croswell set the standard for elegance and eloquence with his stunning photographic triumph, Magnificent Universe. Now, with insightful prose and astonishing images, he presents the red planet's full glory in Magnificent Mars, showing volcanoes taller than Mount Everest, spiral-shaped polar caps of ice, and a canyon system that could stretch from Ohio to California. Here is a concise synthesis of the latest research on Mars, accompanied with the very best full-color images, expertly reprocessed to look even better than NASA's own versions, from the Hubble Space Telescope, Viking, Pathfinder, Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey, and other spacecraft. Highlights include a foldout panorama of the Martian surface; a never-before-published, rainbow-colored topographic map; and a sequence showing a full rotation of Mars, courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope. Many of these images have never appeared in a book before. Few have ever looked so good.

In lyrical prose, Dr. Croswell weaves these stupendous images into a virtual tour of Mars by organizing them around the four elements -- Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. From the northern plains of Vastitas Borealis to the towering Olympus Mons and other volcanoes of the Tharsis bulge, we explore the red planet's geology, topography, and surface. From the frigid climate to the massive dust storms that can engulf the entire globe, we examine the thin Martian atmosphere and the clues it preserves to the planet's wetter past. And, from the flood channels that spill into Chryse Planitia to the vast potential lakebed of ancient Hellas, we see stunning images of ancient rivers and floods, triggering speculation that a warm, wet Mars may have given rise to life that survives to this day. The tour concludes with a voyage to the planet's two potato-shaped moons, Phobos and Deimos, complete with rainbow-colored topographic maps. Unique color-coded tables on Mars, its atmosphere, its life history, its moons, and NASA missions to the planets appear in a useful reference section, along with a glossary and suggestions for further reading.

With its large format, superb images, and compelling text, Magnificent Mars is the next best thing to standing on the red planet itself. In future years NASA will launch numerous missions to Mars, and Magnificent Mars is the definitive guide to what these spacecraft will see. Indeed, the first human explorers to Mars may want to take a copy of Magnificent Mars aboard their spaceship.


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Review

Sir Arthur C. Clarke Our little neighbor Mars will be the first New World of the century that has just dawned. Ken Croswell has done a superb job in outlining what is known, and what is suspected, about the next home of mankind beyond the Moon.

Dr. Owen Gingerich Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Ken Croswell has done it again! By combining specially processed images of Mars with an elegant and informative text, he offers us a feast for the mind as well as the eyes.

Dr. Michael H. Carr U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, and author of The Surface of Mars and Water on Mars In Magnificent Mars, Ken Croswell has succeeded in producing a fitting tribute to our spectacular neighbor. It is an accurate, up-to-date, and highly readable account of how the planet with its huge volcanoes, deep canyons, and dry riverbeds might have formed and evolved, and whether some form of life might have gained a foothold there. The numerous large-format images, many culled from the latest spacecraft returns, make one gasp in wonderment and awe at this truly magnificent Mars.

Dr. Robert Zubrin author of The Case for Mars and president of the Mars Society At last, a work that synthesizes the latest discoveries on the red planet into an accessible yet accurate form. Magnificent Mars is a magnificent book.

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson astrophysicist and director, Hayden Planetarium, New York City In Magnificent Mars, Ken Croswell explores the science, the culture, and the romance of the red planet. So thorough is Ken's treatment that, at times, I felt as though Mars had written its own autobiography.

Dr. Robert Jastrow director (retired) of the Mount Wilson Institute Ken Croswell's Magnificent Mars is visually exciting, beautifully written, and includes an excellent account of the greatest treasure hunt of all time -- the search for signs of Martian life.

Keay Davidson author of Carl Sagan: A Life At last, that rare hybrid: a visually striking and scientifically reliable popular book on Mars for those who quit trusting NASA's hype machine after the "Mars rock" fiasco. Although Magnificent Mars sparkles with entertaining history, it also offers an unusually balanced, fluff-free summary of research on, and debates about, the red planet. Taxpayers, legislators, and presidential candidates who seek straight talk on what we've found there -- or might find after spending billions of additional dollars -- couldn't get a trustier guide than Ken Croswell, one of the world's best astronomy writers.

Marina Benjamin author of Rocket Dreams Magnificent Mars is packed with interesting facts and statistics, yet Ken Croswell weaves the planet's physical credentials into a story of discovery so fluent and compelling that you forget you are reading a science book.

About the Author

Ken Croswell is the author of several highly acclaimed books, including Magnificent Universe and See the Stars: Your First Guide to the Night Sky. He earned his Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard University and lives in Berkeley, California.

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Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Coo Coo! March 27 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
In response to A reader from the corporation of - USA
I am LMAO right now. I cannot believe that someone who would buy this book would have those CRAZY conspiracy views! It sounds like a bad OJ Simpson movie from the 70s! So only the US of A is faking pictures from Mars? Why not the EU with their Beagle II or the Russians? Hmmmmmm Enough with the home schooling. Get out and experience and accept the real world of the 21st century.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful photos of the real Mars... but Jan. 18 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
The pics 'beamed-back'from MARS immediately reminded me of my recent trip to ICELAND which has the same exact landscape (glacerial subterranian volcanic), hence all the volcanic rocks all over the ground. Photoshop adds the red tint... and VOILA!
We are living in the land of Oz. Don't be mentally lazy; Look behind the curtain.
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Format:Hardcover
I found Magnificent Mars to be the very best of the current books on this amazing and beautiful planet. It does two things remarkably well. First, it delights both the eye and the imagination with spectacular large-format photography. Secondly, author and astronomer Ken Croswell leads the reader with an eloquent and easy to read style through a clearly well-researched tour of the latest science about Mars - its fascinating history, and its importance in understanding our own planet Earth and the possible emergence of life elsewhere in the solar system.
What you notice first is the grand scale and beauty of this book. Measuring almost 11"x14", this coffee-table sized volume presents what must be about a hundred spectacular full-page color photographs, a variety of maps, and fascinating tables about the history and physical data of Mars. These images are stunning.
Being something of a photo buff myself, I was struck by the extremely high reproduction quality of the photos. These are the very best Mars images from HST, Viking, Mars Global Surveyor, Pathfinder and so on. But they seem even better. The author mentions that many were digitally reprocessed by Tony Hallas, an expert astrophotographer. The results are just astonishing, and a delight to the eye for sharpness and drama.
For weeks, this beautiful book sat on my coffee table in the living room. Invariably, I found even my non-astronomy friends and family amazed and delighted as they leafed through the dramatic images.
A word of caution - don't let the beautiful cover fool you into thinking this is just another coffee-table picture book. Far from it.
As a science teacher, I was deeply impressed with the hard science that Croswell presents in this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning - a delight to the eye & rich in real science Jan. 11 2004
By David W. Hudgins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I found Magnificent Mars to be the very best of the current books on this amazing and beautiful planet. It does two things remarkably well. First, it delights both the eye and the imagination with spectacular large-format photography. Secondly, author and astronomer Ken Croswell leads the reader with an eloquent and easy to read style through a clearly well-researched tour of the latest science about Mars - its fascinating history, and its importance in understanding our own planet Earth and the possible emergence of life elsewhere in the solar system.
What you notice first is the grand scale and beauty of this book. Measuring almost 11"x14", this coffee-table sized volume presents what must be about a hundred spectacular full-page color photographs, a variety of maps, and fascinating tables about the history and physical data of Mars. These images are stunning.
Being something of a photo buff myself, I was struck by the extremely high reproduction quality of the photos. These are the very best Mars images from HST, Viking, Mars Global Surveyor, Pathfinder and so on. But they seem even better. The author mentions that many were digitally reprocessed by Tony Hallas, an expert astrophotographer. The results are just astonishing, and a delight to the eye for sharpness and drama.
For weeks, this beautiful book sat on my coffee table in the living room. Invariably, I found even my non-astronomy friends and family amazed and delighted as they leafed through the dramatic images.
A word of caution - don't let the beautiful cover fool you into thinking this is just another coffee-table picture book. Far from it.
As a science teacher, I was deeply impressed with the hard science that Croswell presents in this book. He organizes the text around the themes of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Each section illustrates and describes the dramatically changing geology, atmosphere, volcanic landscape, and water in the life of Mars. Was Mars once lush with water and far warmer than today? Could life have sprouted there as it did on Earth?
Beautiful pictures aside, the "beautiful science" of the accompanying text is what really grabbed me. Croswell presents the careful research that reveals Mars as a complex and amazing planet with a dramatic history of change. His description of sweeping changes in the landscape and atmosphere of Mars during its three major phases (Noachian, Hesperian, and Amazonian) will be easily read and enjoyed by any scientifically curious person.
Magnificent Mars is beautiful, scientifically rich, and highly recommended!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Mars - magnificent book March 22 2007
By Neil Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This wonderful tome is a journey to the red planet in itself. It answers all the question one might have about Mars and many other questions one wouldn't think to ask. This book has immediately become a treasured possession for which I have much affection. Wonderful for all ages too; children can enjoy the generous and colorful photographs and adults can enjoy the imaginative and beautifully articulated science that explains this distant and mysterious world. Buy this book!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MAGNIFICENT MARS..Yes it is! Aug. 25 2010
By "Stargazer" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I first became aware of Ken Croswell and his work, while attending a meeting of the Sonoma County Astonomical Society in Northern California. My opinion is that Ken is brilliant, and offers us amateur astronomers a glimpse into the details we don't see through our telescopes. This is a terrific work of research and dedication about our small neighboring planet MARS. Personally I found myself wandering over the martian surface through all the beautiful images in the book. Does life exist there?, I certainly hope so. But if it doesn't, maybe we will find the fossil remains one day!

This is a large book that may not fit most book shelves. However, it is worth every penny. Enjoy, I did. Now I think I just might go back to MARS!!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb book! March 18 2010
By Charles L. Trammell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is great for detailed descriptions of Mars' geology. In my opinion, this book is a treasure trove of information for those intrigued by astronomy and geology, especially planetary geology. The book clarifies complex geologic processes unique to the planet Mars. Yet, it still fuels the wonders of the imagination. This is an incredible reference book.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful experience! May 22 2005
By Vinnie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A must read for anyone who cares about the future. Buy this book for yourself and for your children. Fabulous!
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