Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon, and his new book encourages kids to take the first steps onto Mars.
In "Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet" (National Geographic Children's Books, 2015), astronaut Buzz Aldrin invites kids to set a course for Mars as he delves into its history and environment as well as plans for a manned mission. Along with co-author Marianne Dyson, an author, physicist and NASA flight engineer, Aldrin guides the reader through the steps of getting to, exploring and colonizing the planet.
Young readers learn what they will need to get to Mars (and what they won't need on the Red Planet — such as a lawn mower, coat, umbrella, bug spray and a boat) and are introduced to activities that help explain the conditions on the planet, incorporating string, toy cars, microwaves, marshmallows and balloons into various explorations. The book goes through a detailed, fun history of all the missions to Mars so far and the information those missions have brought back before giving details about how humans might set foot there. [Buzz Aldrin Says Humanity's Future Is on Mars (Exclusive Video)]
Aldrin has explained his plans for Mars before, as in his 2013 book, "Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration"(written with Leonard David, a longtime contributor to Space.com). This time, he works his way step by step through a long-term scheme for an "Aldrin Cycler" spacecraft, which would cycle through the solar system from Earth to Mars, and back to Earth, every two and one-half years.
Before landing on the planet itself, he says explorers could scope out the planet from Phobos, one of Mars' moons. Upon landing, Aldrin describes how the first explorers — including the reader — will de-dust themselves, set up camp and begin finding resources. He explains how, as time goes on, the settlers will transform the planet to be livable and suited to humanity's needs.
Aldrin's vision of Mars is packed with concrete information, instructions for hands-on demonstrations and straightforward descriptions of going from one step to the next — down to the menu of the first Mars cafe and the types of beds the first settlers will sleep on. Even if the details might differ, this book sets forward a tangible path that space-loving children will be eager to tread.
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Sarah Lewin started writing for Space.com in June of 2015 as a Staff Writer and became Associate Editor in 2019 . Her work has been featured by Scientific American, IEEE Spectrum, Quanta Magazine, Wired, The Scientist, Science Friday and WGBH's Inside NOVA. Sarah has an MA from NYU's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program and an AB in mathematics from Brown University. When not writing, reading or thinking about space, Sarah enjoys musical theatre and mathematical papercraft. She is currently Assistant News Editor at Scientific American. You can follow her on Twitter @SarahExplains.