Wednesday’s Book Review: “The Scientific Exploration of Mars”

Roger Launius's Blog

scientific exploration of MarsThe Scientific Exploration of Mars. By Frederic W. Taylor. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010. V + 348 pages. Prologue, acknowledgments, notes, illustrations, appendices, index. ISBN: 978-0-521-82956-4. $45, hardcover.

Mars has long held a special fascination for humans who pondered the planets of the solar system—partly because of the possibility that life might either presently exist there or at some time in the past it might have existed ­there. Astronomer Percival Lowell became interested in Mars during the latter part of the nineteenth century, and he built what became the Lowell Observatory near Flagstaff, Arizona, to study the planet. He argued that Mars had once been a watery planet and that the topographical features known as canals had been built by intelligent beings, created as a planetary-wide effort to bring precious water from the poles to inhabited parts of Mars nearer the equator. The idea of intelligent life on…

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