Mars Up Close (Review)

As Autumn settles into Earth’s Northern Hemisphere, I find myself wanting to spend more quality time doing some armchair exploration, but not so much by the glow of a digital screen.   One of the best ways to do that is with a luxurious, beautifully crafted hardcover paper and ink book.Mars_DJ_REL2.indd

My turn for Mars Up Close–Inside The Curiosity Mission, finally came up at the Norfolk (Nebraska) Public Library. I’m glad for the delay, because I was too rushed in August to fully enjoy this book. Like most National Geographic publications, this coffee table size book is sumptuous with its perfectionist’s photographic standards and artful layout.  I found only one glaring quibble with the book; that it was printed in Red China.

After I saw the title, I noted that the author is the seasoned National Geographic writer Marc Kaufman. He’s a well-rounded journalist whose credentials include work for “The Washington Post” and the “Philadelphia Inquirer”. A previous non-fiction book First Contact, has received rave reviews. Kaufman brings out the sense of adventure, suspense, trials and joy of discovery felt by the technicians and scientists involved in the mission.

The book’s forward was written by SpaceX and Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk. I couldn’t help wondering how much Tesla coupe technology is in the Mars Rover. Whether or not that technology is in the Rover, Musk is deeply involved in development of private enterprise’s role in Deep Space exploration.

It’s ironic the technology that enables us to capture images and data, then view it in laboratories and personal devices is best exhibited in Mars-NASAJPLCaltechMSSS01paper and ink format. Nearly anybody can view martian images from the Curiosity rover on tablets, phones, and computers. However, if you really want to spend some time actually taking in clear detail, nothing comes close to the carefully developed, enhanced ability of skilled photographic printing on paper to deliver the goods.

The stunning, oversized satellite images and Curiosity Rover photographs are cleaned up and processed for utmost clarity and realism. The photos, alone, are worth the suggested retail price of $40 (or lower prices on the Web). If you take time to enjoy the accompanying text, you will enjoy an extremely satisfying experience.

You will learn about the movers and shakers behind the mission through candid interviews. I was pleasantly surprised to find out how many women were crucial to the direction and success of the martian landing operations.


There is apparent visual evidence that Mars once had surface water and an environment that could have potentially supported some sort of life. The ways that Earth and Mars are similar are brought out in some of the side-by-side photographic comparisons.

As if the continuing remote exploration of Mars isn’t enough, technology buffs will like the descriptions of the machinery.  Text and photos explain the various components, from the wheel treads to the sophisticated cameras. The technology is not only analyzed, we can read about why it was used and how it was implemented.

In as much as we are currently seeing and hearing updates from the Curiosity mission on Mars, this book will provide the curious reader with important background knowledge and information. Mars Up Close is important to anyone who wants to know more about Outer Space, science, and the world beyond the mundane. This is a book that will tantalize you with a progressive vision of a very possible future.

Mars Up Close is not a mere coffee table, decorative book.  This is a seriously intense, compelling collaborative work that is meant to deliver the discovery experience to the reader. After looking at the photos and reading the text, I felt closer to the fourth planet from the Sun.

{ Mars Up Close: Inside the Curiosity Mission by Marc Kaufman with a forward by Elon Musk; Hardcover published August 5, 2014 by National Geographic; 304 pages; ISBN: 978-1-4262-1278-9 }

Mars-iconThe Blue Jay of Happiness gives this book his highest ranking.

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in art, Books, cultural highlights, Entertainment, Gadgets, Science and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Mars Up Close (Review)

  1. mandala56 says:

    I also find it irritating when our books are printed in China. I suppose the authors don’t have any say in that. Sounds like an interesting book, though.

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