All of a sudden everyone – from Elon Musk to Ridley Scott to Donald Trump – is discussing about going to the Red Planet. Yes Mars is back!
After the Apollo astronauts landed on the Moon in 1969, many people thought Mars would be next. However NASA’s Viking 1, which landed in 1976, was just a robot. The much-anticipated crewed mission failed to materialize, destroyed by a combination of technological and political challenges.
Forty years after Viking and almost half a century after Apollo technology has improved beyond recognition – as has politics.
As private ventures like SpaceX seize centre stage from NASA, Mars has undergone a seismic shift – it’s become the prime destination for future human expansion and colonization.
But what’s it really like on Mars, and why should anyone want to go there?
How do you get there and what are the risks?
Astrophysicist and science writer Andrew May answers these questions and more, as he traces the history of our fascination with the Red Planet.
Andrew May obtained his PhD in astrophysics from the University of Manchester in 1982. He has written on subjects as diverse as the physical sciences, military technology, British history and the paranormal. His recent books include pocket-sized biographies of Newton and Einstein and an eye-opening study of the relationship between pseudoscience and science fiction. He lives in Somerset.