Eight Great Books About Mars

Mars has long inspired wild flights of imagination, as well as intense scientific interest. Long ago, when only the Moon and the stars lit up the night sky, people watched as this blood-red dot looped its way across the sky. Some assigned a rather war-like "meme" to it (for the color of blood), and in some cultures, Mars signified the god of war.

As time passed, and people began to study the sky with scientific interest, we found out that Mars and the other planets are worlds of their own. Exploring them "in situ" became one of the main goals of the space age, and we continue that activity today.

Today Mars is as fascinating as ever, and the subject of books, TV specials, and academic research. Thanks to the robots and orbiters that continually map and sift through rocks on its surface, we know more about its atmosphere, surface, history, and surface than we ever dreamed. And it remains a fascinating place. No longer is it the world of war. It's a planet where some of us may one day explore. Want to learn more about it? Check out these books!

01
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Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet

mars book cover
A 2016 book about travel and colonization of Mars. National Geographic

It won't be long before people travel to Mars and begin to make it their home. This book, by long-time science writer Leonard David, explores that future and what it will mean for humanity. This book was released by National Geographic as part of their promotion for the Mars TV show they created. It is a great read and a great look at our future on the Red Planet.

02
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Postcards From Mars: The First Photographer on the Red Planet, by Jim Bell

Postcards from Mars: The First Photographer on the Red Planet
Postcards from Mars: The First Photographer on the Red Planet. Dutton Books

Discover some amazing imagery from our neighbor, Mars. It's a photographic tour of the surface of the Red Planet. Not until we are actually able to visit Mars in person will we be able to see these breathtaking scenes in a more realistic fashion.

03
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Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration, by Buzz Aldrin

mission to mars
The cover of Buzz Aldrin's book, MIssion to Mars. BuzzAldrin.com

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin is a huge supporter of human missions to Mars. In this book he lays out his vision for the near future when people will be heading to the Red Planet. Aldrin is best known as the second man to set foot on the Moon. If anybody knows about human space exploration, it's Buzz Aldrin!

04
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Mars Rover Curiosity: An Inside Account From Curiosity's Chief Engineer

curiosity-rover-selfie-Windjana-holes-PIA18390-br2.jpg
The Mars Curiosity rover "selfie" at Windjana Drilling site on the flanks of Mt. Sharp, on Mars. The view does not include the rover's arm. It does include the hole in Windjana produced by the hammering drill on Curiosity's arm collecting a sample of rock powder from the interior of the rock. The hole is surrounded by grayish cuttings on top of the rock ledge to the left of the rover. The Mast Camera (Mastcam) atop the rover's remote sensing mast is pointed at the drill hole. NASA/JPL

The Mars rover Curiosity has been exploring the Red Planet's surface since August 2012, returning up-close images and data about the rocks, minerals, and general landscape. This book, by Rob Manning and William L. Simon, tells Curiosity's story from an insider's perspective. 

05
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The Rock From Mars: A Detective Story on Two Planets, by Kathy Sawyer

The Rock from Mars: A Detective Story on Two Planets
The Rock from Mars: A Detective Story on Two Planets. Random House

From Publishers Weekly: "When geologist Robbie Score spied the little green rock lying on the bluish-white Antarctic landscape on a December day in 1984, she had no idea it would change her life, provoke fierce controversies among scientists around the world and challenge humankind's view of ourselves." Like any great detective story, this fascinating book about one of the most controversial meteorites ever discovered, this book will keep you turning the pages.

06
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Mars: The Nasa Mission Reports, Vol. 1, by Robert Godwin (Editor)

Mars: The Nasa Mission Reports, Vol. 1 by Robert Godwin (Editor)

This is one of the most technically detailed books I've read on NASA Mars missions. The folks at Apogee generally do it right. Very informative, if a bit too technical for some readers. It ranges from the earliest missions, through the Viking 1 and 2 landers, up to the more recent rovers and mappers.

07
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The Case for Mars, by Robert Zubrin

The Case for Mars
The Case for Mars. Free Press

Dr. Robert Zubrin is the founder of the Mars Society and a proponent of human exploration of the Red Planet. Very few people could have written such an authoritative book on visiting Mars. It puts forward his "Mars Direct plan," which Zubrin submitted to NASA. This bold plan for a manned Mars mission has won the approval of many, both inside and outside of the agency.

08
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Magnificent Mars, by Ken Croswell

Magnificent Mars
Magnificent Mars. Free Press

Ken Croswell, the acclaimed author and astronomer behind "Magnificent Universe," set his sights a little closer to home in this beautifully detailed exploration of the Red Planet. Notable scientists, such as Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Dr. Owen Gingerich, Dr. Michael H. Carr, Dr. Robert Zubrin, and Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, gave it highly favorable reviews.

Edited and updated by Carolyn Collins Petersen.