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The Sirens of Mars

Searching for Life on Another World

Sarah Stewart Johnson



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02 November 2021
A talented young planetary scientist charts our centuries-old obsession with Mars - Winner of the 2021 Whiting Award for Non-Fiction Right now, spacecraft are circling Mars, sweeping over Terra Sabaea, Syrtis Major, the dunes of Elysium and Mare Sirenum - on the brink, perhaps, of a discovery that would inspire humankind as much as any in our history. With poetic precision, Sarah Stewart Johnson traces the evocative history of our explorations of Mars, interlacing her personal journey as a scientist with tales of other seekers who have scoured the planet for signs of life. Ultimately, she shows how its story is also a story about Earth- it is a foil, a mirror, a tell-tale reflection of our own anxieties and yearnings to find - if we're lucky - that we're not alone.
Imprint:   Penguin
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 198mm,  Width: 129mm,  Spine: 16mm
Weight:   213g
ISBN:   9780141981581
ISBN 10:   014198158X
Pages:   304
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Sarah Stewart Johnson is an associate professor at Georgetown University, where she teaches astrobiology and planetary science and leads a biosignatures laboratory. A former Goldwater, Truman, and Rhodes Scholar, as well as a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows, she received degrees in PPE and in Biology from the University of Oxford, and a PhD from MIT. She worked with President Obama's science advisor in the White House, and now serves on the science team for NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover.

Reviews for The Sirens of Mars: Searching for Life on Another World

Mars is an exceptionally inhospitable place. The coldest Antarctic winter, the windiest Everest December - each is as nothing compared with an unremarkable day on the red planet. That is precisely why Mars is such a good place to look for life. If it exists there, Sarah Stewart Johnson writes, the smallest breath in the deepest night , then the only conclusion is there must be life throughout the universe. This beguiling book is about the search for life on Mars - from those who thought the planet was criss-crossed with canals to those, like the author, who just hope for a microbe or two. * Times (best books of the year) * A must-read for fans of our Martian neighbour and humanity's longstanding search for life elsewhere in the Universe * BBC Sky At Night * There's no better guide to what NASA's various Mars missions have revealed ... A true love letter to geology, on this world and others * Nature * The Sirens of Mars provides the prospect of great discovery, and an introduction to a writer of the first rank. -- Edward O. Wilson, University Research Professor Emeritus, Harvard University A celebration of human curiosity, passion and perseverance. Superb in its storytelling, majestic in its vision, The Sirens of Mars will give readers a new appreciation for the preciousness of life in the cosmos. -- Alan Lightman, author of Einstein's Dreams This elegantly crafted book conveys what it's like to be a young scientist involved in the quest. -- Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal and author of On the Future: Prospects for Humanity Exhilarating, informative, always engaging and at times beautiful in its descriptions. -- Andrew Crumey * Literary Review * The inside story of the exploration of Mars. A young woman scientist shows what it is like to be in the thick of exciting and ground-breaking research. -- Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Professor of Astrophysics, University of Oxford Johnson's prose swirls with lyrical wonder, as varied and multi-hued as the apricot deserts, butterscotch skies and blue sunsets of Mars -- Anthony Doerr * New York Times Book Review * Beguiling * The Times * Elegantly written and boundlessly entertaining * Sunday Telegraph * Beautifully written, emotive - a love letter to a planet -- Dermot O'Leary * BBC Radio 2 *

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