This intriguing series takes at our universe and the planets, stars, etc. that are part of it.
After discussing the formation of our solar system, author Capaccio compares Earth and Mars, the planet most like our own. Often called the "Red Planet," Mars was associated by ancient peoples with war and violence, and named for the Roman god of war. By the 1500s, Tycho Brahe had collected extensive data about Mars, from which Kepler noted its elliptical orbit. In the eighteenth century, William Herschel used telescopes to calculate Mars's tilted axis and to chart the planet's features. Mars has always been a focus for creative speculation; young astronomers will enjoy the section describing fantastic notions ranging from creature-built canals to a Martian invasion of Earth. Using space probes and rovers, scientists have now made new discoveries, engendering even more fantastic speculation. Were there once floods on Mars? Could there be minute microorganisms there? Can humans expect some day to live on Mars? The author reveals that NASA is planning to land astronauts on Mars sometime in the future, though much expensive research and engineering will need to take place before human life can be transported to and survive on this intriguing planet. Vivid illustrations, a fact page, a glossary, and bibliographies enhance the often fascinating text, making Mars attractive to space explorers at varying levels of sophistication.