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Book Reviews


Martian Outpost
Author: Erik Seedhouse

Publisher: Springer-Praxis

ISBN: 978-0387-98190-1

Price: £24.50 (Pb), 292pp


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Predicting the future is always a gamble. With several of the previous incumbents of the White House stating the intent to return first to the Moon and then on to Mars, many would have hoped that the future would have happened by now. But rumblings of budget cut proposals make the prospects seem as distant as ever. With Erik Seedhouse’s book, the planning and requirements for such a complex and difficult mission are laid out for all to see.

Opening with a chapter entitled Why Go, Seedhouse expertly guides the reader through almost every possible aspect of what will be humankind’s greatest explorations. Whilst it dips into political discussions, Seedhouse’s conclusions are strikingly accurate: this has to be a joint endeavour, the scale would just be too immense for any current or future superpower alone.

This theme continues into the second chapter discussing the current and past planning by various space agencies, before diving headlong into the real science behind each mission. Just the telemetry considerations alone would fill a small library, and again, is split into the various different agency approaches as to how they will solve some of the big problems of weight, mass and entering a Mars orbit.

What’s wonderful is the role that industry, the private sector and non-governmental agencies are playing in these plans, with former NASA alumni as significant as Buzz Aldrin, now one of the most fervent supporters of a manned mission to the red planet, designing his own orbits for such a task. The book also covers the options for landing and ascent on Mars, and has quite detailed planning breakdowns for the mission timeline.

If you wanted to know why it will cost so much, just take a look at the decades of research, development, testing, planning, design and implementation that will be required to do this most wondrous voyage. Just the physiological constraints on the human body, and exposure to both deep space and the surface of another world, for a mission that will take the best part of two years will likely take years to fully understand.

The book is a really easy read and should be an immediate purchase for anyone interested in how man will get to Mars.

Nick Howes

2009 Yearbook
This 132-page special edition features the ultimate observing guide for 2009, a review of all the biggest news stories of 2008, in depth articles covering all aspects of astronomy and space missions for 2009, previews of International Year of Astronomy events and much, much more.
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Infinity Rising
This special publication features the photography of British astro-imager Nik Szymanek and covers a range of photographic methods from basic to advanced. Beautiful pictures of the night sky can be obtained with a simple camera and tripod before tackling more difficult projects, such as guided astrophotography through the telescope and CCD imaging.
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Exploring Mars
Astronomy Now is pleased to announce the publication of Exploring Mars. The very best images of Mars taken by orbiting spacecraft and NASA's Spirit and Opportunity rovers fill up the 98 glossy pages of this special edition!
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Mars rover poster
This new poster features some of the best pictures from NASA's amazing Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity.
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