Explore Mars in both fiction and nonfiction

NASA completes a year-long Mars mission called CHAPEA (Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog) on July 6, 2024. For 378 days, four ordinary people — with master’s degrees in a STEM field — have been living in Mars Dune Alpha, a 1,700-square-foot habitat built inside a warehouse at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. NASA has not shared many details about the experiment except to say participants will experience “resource limitations, equipment failure, communication delays and other environmental stressors.”

While those participants will be getting a taste of what it may be like to live on Mars, you can explore the Red Planet in your own mind with materials from the Davenport Public Library. Here’s a small sample of what’s available. (Summaries provided by the publishers.)

Non-fiction book: The new world on Mars : what we can create on the red planet by Robert Zurbrin

SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic are building fleets of space vehicles to make interplanetary travel as affordable as Old-World passage to America. We will settle on Mars, and with our knowledge of the planet, analyzed in depth by Dr. Zubrin, we will utilize the resources and tackle the challenges that await us. What will we build? Populous Martian city-states producing air, water, food, power, and more. Zubrin’s Martian economy will pay for necessary imports and generate income from varied enterprises, such as real estate sales–homes that are airtight and protect against cosmic space radiation, with fish-farm aquariums positioned overhead, letting in sunlight and blocking cosmic rays while providing fascinating views. Zubrin even predicts the Red Planet customs, social relations, and government — of the people, by the people, for the people, with inalienable individual rights — that will overcome traditional forms of oppression to draw Earth immigrants. After all, Mars needs talent.

Documentary on DVD: Space : the longest goodbye

In the next decade, NASA will send astronauts to Mars for the first time. Separated from Earth, and unable to communicate with the ground in real-time, crew members will experience extreme isolation that could gravely affect their three-year journey. This Sundance-premiering documentary follows a savvy NASA psychologist tasked with protecting daring space explorers. Ido Mizrahy’s documentary “Space : the longest goodbye,” explores issues facing plans for a manned mission to Mars. The challenge is to not only figure out how to physically prepare astronauts for 3+ years in space, but also psychologically.

Fiction book: Girlfriend on Mars by Deborah Willis

Amber Kivinen is moving to Mars. Or at least, she will be if she wins a chance to join MarsNow. She and 23 reality TV contestants from around the world — including attractive Israeli soldier Adam, endearing fellow Canadian Pichu, and an assortment of science nerds and wannabe influencers — are competing for two seats on the first human-led mission to Mars, sponsored by billionaire Geoff Task. Meanwhile Kevin, Amber’s boyfriend of 14 years, was content going nowhere until Amber left him — and their hydroponic weed business — behind. Since the technology to come home doesn’t exist yet, would Amber really leave everything behind to be a billionaire’s Martian guinea pig? Sure, the rainforest is burning, Geoff Task has bought New Zealand, and Kevin might be a little depressed, but isn’t there some hope left for life on Earth?

Science fiction book: The strange by Nathan Ballingrud

New Galveston, Mars: Fourteen-year-old Anabelle Crisp sets off through the wastelands of the Strange to find Silas Mundt’s gang who have stolen her mother’s voice, destroyed her father, and left her solely with a need for vengeance. Since Anabelle’s mother left for Earth to care for her own ailing mother, her days in New Galveston have been spent at school and her nights at her laconic father’s diner with Watson, the family Kitchen Engine and dishwasher as her only companion. When the Silence came, and communication and shipments from Earth to its colonies on Mars stopped, life seemed stuck in foreboding stasis until the night Silas Mundt and his gang attacked. Ballingrud’s novel is haunting in its evocation of Anabelle’s quest for revenge amidst a spent and angry world accompanied by a domestic Engine, a drunken space pilot, and the toughest woman on Mars.

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