The Sirens of Mars
Searching for Life on Another World
From an award-winning young planetary scientist, a spellbinding human and natural history of the quest to find life on Mars
Mars was once similar to Earth, but today it has no rivers, no lakes, no oceans. Coated in red dust, the terrain is bewilderingly empty. It is an unlikely place to pin our hopes of finding life elsewhere in the Universe. And yet multiple spacecraft are circling Mars, sweeping over Terra Sabaea, Syrtis Major, the dunes of Elysium and Mare Sirenum - on the brink, perhaps, of a discovery that would inspire humankind as much as any in our history.In this beautifully observed book, award-winning planetary scientist Sarah Stewart Johnson traces the history of our explorations of this enigmatic planet from the dawn of the Space Age to the breathtaking discoveries of today's landers, orbiters and rovers. With poetic precision, she interlaces her own personal journey as a scientist and a mother with tales of other seekers, from Carl Sagan to her own mentor Maria Zuber, who have scoured Mars for signs of life, transforming the planet from a distant point of light into a world of its own. In the process, she shows how the story of Mars is also a story about Earth: this other world has been our mirror, our foil, a tell-tale reflection of our own anxieties and yearnings.At a time when Mars exploration is reaching new heights, Sarah Stewart Johnson reveals how the quest to explore it a deeply human attempt to discover - if we're lucky - that we're not alone.