September 11, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

Mars: Uncovering the Secrets of the Red Planet

Current Status
In Season
Paul Raeburn
Science and Technology, Coffee Table
We gave it an A

Earthlings’ terrestrial imaginations have always been fired by the fourth rock from the sun. Eons ago, Romans named Mars after their god of war; more recently, H.G. Wells, Orson Welles, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Paul Verhoeven, and Tim Burton have painted frightening and funny fantasies of Martian-human contact. Thanks to pictures from the Mariner missions of the ’60s, the 1976 Viking landings, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the Pathfinder mission of the ’90s, Mars: Uncovering the Secrets of the Red Planet lets us see the stuff the planet is really made of. But while the images are out of this world, the most revealing information here is what apparently serves as the true source for scientific inspiration: Mars may be lifeless, but what’s not to like about a place with rocks named Calvin and Hobbs? A

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