From the earliest speculations about a red dot in the sky to the findings of Vikings 1 and 2, here is the dramatic story of Mars. Science writer Isaac Asimov shows how the red planet’s motion established the nature of the solar system; how the discovery of its satellites confirmed the amazing insight of a great English satirist a century and a half before; how its mysterious canals captured the public imagination after the mistranslation of an Italian world; how the Viking photographs taken of the surface corroborated the discovery of a volcano far larger than any on Earth.
As in Jupiter, the Largest Planet and Alpha Centauri, the Nearest Star, Dr. Asimov continues his survey of Earth’s “near” neighbors by presenting all of the known facts and some fascinating probabilities in his uniquely clear and interesting way, making the findings of astronomy exciting and inspiring chronicles of human achievement.
Like Jupiter, the Largest Planet—the first book in the series of astronomy texts for teenagers Asimov wrote for Lothrop, Lee, and Shepherd in the 1970’s— this book is an excellent introduction to many of the planetary properties of Mars. Like the earlier book, it’s full of tables with interesting information and comparisons between Mars and other planetary bodies.
The main advantage that it has over Jupiter, the Largest Planet is that it hasn’t been quite as badly dated. True, it was published just barely in time to include a picture from the Viking landers on the cover and before the Viking experiments had been properly analyzed, but studies of Mars have not advanced quite as much over the course of the last 25 years as have studies of Jupiter. As a result, not only do I enjoy this volume myself enormously, but I would unhesitatingly recommend it to someone interested in learning about Mars.