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Mars, A Cosmic Stepping Stone: Uncovering Humanity's Cosmic Context [Hardcover]

Kevin Nolan

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Book Description

30 Sep 2008 0387341641 978-0387341644 2008

**"Mars - A Cosmic Stepping Stone" connects ordinary people with the relevance of space exploration in a way not seen since Carl Sagan.

**The book encapsulates, completely and understandibly, the 'big picture' about humanity's path to uncovering its cosmic connections and how Mars is critical to that. Few, if any books in the area have attempted to do this and achieve it, since those of Sagan.

**The book presents the broadest, most complete, most up-to-date and most exciting account of humanity's fascination with, and future intentions regarding the Red Planet.

**The book is built on the authors 31 years experience of astronomy and 22 years of communicating science to the public, resulting in many unique ideas and unprecedented ways of conveying them. The author is establishing a reputation in his country for this. Such an emphasis is a priority for the book - more so than conveying facts. Few currently available books approach the subject from such a stand point.

**A new generation, the second generation since the start of space exploration, deserve literature that encapsulates the important issues of the subject and sets them on their own path of exploration.

**The book connects with issues pertanent to todays world. In a global community full of stresses, this book unfolds a positive human story that is of direct relevance to everyone. In a world full of frivolous intrepetations and portrayed fear regarding science, the book brings to the table a grounded yet enigmatic perspective that will bestow a sense of optimism and inclusion.

 


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Review

From the reviews:

"...Kevin Nolan knows his marbles, as we would say in this part of the world. I was absolutely mesmerized with the amount of relevant and accurate detail that he manages to squeeze into less than 400 pages of lively text, and this well supported by dozens of crisp illustrations... I can wholeheartedly recommend this book for anyone with an interest in the development of life on Earth and on human plans to populate the Universe." (Gerard McMahon, Astronomy & Space, January 2009)

"Whoever steps out onto the surface of Mars is likely to be greeeted and shown around by Kevin Nolan. Kevin, lecturer in physics at Tallaght Institute of Technology, probably knows more about Mars than most of us know about Earth, and it is remarkable just how much we now know about the red planet. For a number of years, Mars has been the target for mission after mission, all of which Kevin describes in some detail..." (Tom Kennedy, Science Spin, February 24, 2009)

"...to date, the search for life elsewhere in the universe has eluded us. Mars: A Cosmic Stepping Stone is an attempt by Irish scientist Kevin Nolan to put our explorations of the Red Planet in the general context of that search. His book could hardly be more timely as Nasa scientists have recently found plumes of methane gas which could originate from microbial life on Mars... No place in our solar system, not even our own moon, is as well known to us as Mars, yet we have literally and metaphorically only scratched the surface. Nolan, a lecturer in physics at Tallaght IT, diligently sets out the history of Mars exploration and how the planet has confounded, confused and surprised in equal measure... There have been many books written about Mars, but few are as comprehensive or as lucid as this... Mars could be the scientific story of this century, but the public have not yet become fully engaged... The subtitle of the book is Why Mars Matters. It is to the author’s ultimate credit that he has answered that question so thoroughly." (Ronan McGreevy, Irish Times, January 29, 2009)

"The book contains discussions of the origin of life on Earth, an overview of historical and current missions, and details and important considerations for future missions to Mars and beyond. This work is aimed at the popular science audience … . the text is well researched, and readers who have the patience to wade through Nolan’s encyclopedic-style prose will find a wealth of facts about our exploration of Mars." (S. A. Russell Gonzalez, Choice, Vol. 46 (7), March, 2009)

"“Kevin Nolan offers a detailed – bordering on academic – and thoroughly up-to-date treatment of the Red Planet in this book..." (Five out of five stars, David Darling, Sky at Night, February, 2009)

"Mars, A Cosmic Stepping Stone is a thoughtful essay into our relationship with the cosmos, and how the conquest of the Red Planet would effectively mark humankind’s rite of passage to the far greater spaces beyond our Solar System. … The book is beautifully produced with a very generous section of colour plates, with many black-and-white illustrations throughout the text. Highly recommended." (Richard McKim, The Observatory, Vol. 129 (1210), June, 2009)

About the Author

Kevin Nolan is a scientist and science communicator from Ireland. He holds honors B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in physics and astronomy. After several years in the computer industry, Kevin returned to lecture in physics at the Institute of Technology, Tallaght, Dublin, Ireland and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. under Dr. Niall Smith of the Cork Institute of Technology, developing a software based image analysis system for the European Space Agency INTEGRAL space observatory.

Among Kevin's passions is science outreach. Involvement here includes acting as volunteer coordinator to Ireland for The Planetary Society (founder Carl Sagan), popular science writing, public lectures throughout the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, consultancy to Irish TV science programs and occasional TV and Radio appearances.

In 2001, Kevin was invited by Prof. Ian Elliot of Dunsink Observatory to act as secretary to Ireland's contribution to the ESA/ESO/CERN European youth project, ‘Life in the Universe’. Ireland’s efforts were complimented and supported by Ann Druyan, author, media producer and wife to the late Carl Sagan. In 2002/2003 Kevin was awarded a state grant to present a series of high profile, media-rich lectures to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Voyager space missions (titled "Voyager - from Earth to Interstellar Space", Nov 2002) and current Mars exploration (titled "Mars - A Cosmic Stepping Stone" May 2003), which lead to Kevin proposing and in part developing a full-page color feature on Mars for The Irish Times newspaper and a feature article for Astronomy&Spaces (A&S) magazine.

Subsequent to further well received articles for Astronomy&Space and the Irish Times, Kevin embarked on a new writing project - a monthly column for A&S titled 'Cosmic Perspectives' – examining human contexts associated with space exploration. According to A&S editor and Astronomy Ireland Chairman Dave Moore FRAS, the column was among the most popular of the magazine, often prompting lively feedback and debate from readers. Kevin hopes to bring the concept to a broader audience through newspaper and magazine. Also under development are several other books (aside from the currently available "Mars – A Cosmic Stepping Stone") and a science documentary proposal also about the planet Mars, all aimed at connecting the public with matters of scientific relevance.


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mars A Cosmic stepping Stone 30 Oct 2009
By Thomas Erickson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Excellent book. Beautiful color images. Kevin Nolan does a good job describing the need for Mars to be our stepping stone for exploration and colonizing. He has a good descriptive writing style. Some interesting tech talk but not too deep. Not a kids book but you don't need a degree in astronomy or "planetology" either. Easy to follow. Highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the expansion of the human race. Hope this book implants a little "A need to go to Mars" to readers.This book answers some questions on Mars colonization and finding life but thankfully opens up many more for thought and study. Most of the book maybe a little difficult or dry for young readers but parents can show their children the beautiful images and read some of the less technical passages to their young children. Both will enjoy this book.

Side note. I'm 56. At age 14, I had a talk with my best friend. Both of us were interested in space exploration and still are today.I told him two things in space Id like to see accomplished before I died. One was a permanent lunar base and two, man having set foot on Mars and exploring it. I wish I live to see it.
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