A Traveler’s Guide to Mars

Written in delightful prose and illustrated with exquisite maps, pictures, and paintings, A Traveler’s Guide to Mars: The Mysterious Landscapes of the Red Planet will intrigue scientific experts and lay readers. Based on data acquired from space ventures, Mars is not geologically dead, as had been previously thought in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Evidence exists for recent volcanism, water, and climate changes on the red planet.

Using fundamental geological and geophysical principles, along with images captured by the Mariner 9, Viking, Hubble Space Telescope, and the ongoing Mars Global Surveyor missions, William K. Hartmann explores the possible historical evolution of Mars. Numerous sidebars and chronologies help the reader better understand basic geologic principles, keep the terrain and geology of Mars organized, and gain insight into how scientific teams unravel mysteries. Hartmann vividly describes some of the sensational geological features found on Mars, including Valles Marineris, a canyon system that dwarfs the Grand Canyon, and Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in our solar system. Throughout the book, Hartmann is careful to point out his own speculations versus the consensus of the scientific community.

Many lay readers may need to read this book rather slowly in order to assimilate some of the ideas and interpret features that are described in some of the images. The last chapter gives some hints about future Martian research and possible human exploration of the planet. It is not necessary to read the book from cover to cover in order to glean valuable information and insights about Mars.