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Destination: Mars    by Seymour Simon order for
Destination: Mars
by Seymour Simon
Order:  USA  Can
HarperTrophy, 2004 (2000)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Whether you want to share your fascination with Mars with a child, or simply are ready to read and learn along with them, Seymour Simon's Destination: Mars is a good place to start. It's accompanied by glorious photographs, mostly courtesy of NASA.

Simon explains why Mars is so bright in the night sky and how it came to be labelled the 'red planet'. He tells us the length of the Martian day and year (both longer than our own), and goes into the canal theory (and the language misunderstanding that started it). He mentions H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds and the impact of Orson Welles' radio play that had listeners believing in bug-eyed aliens invading New Jersey. He mentions the 3000 mile long Valle Marineris, and the (15 mile high!) Olympus Mons volcano.

There are seasonal views of the Martian north pole, and a 3D photographic reconstruction of its ice cap. There's speculation on the existence and fate of Mars' ancient ocean, and photos of its two small moons, Phobos and Deimos, which look rather like lumpy potatoes. Simon mentions the 1996 launch of the Pathfinder, and discoveries made by means of information sent back to Earth by its robot rover Sojourner. The author ends on the exciting notion that a reader might some day 'set foot on the surface of Mars'.

The red planet has been in the news a great deal lately. While not totally up to date, Destination: Mars is close enough to make an intriguing introduction that's likely to stimulate further home or school investigation via the Internet and the news.

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