Special thanks to Pascal Lee for answering 5 questions about his recently featured book – Mission: Mars
I’m a planetary scientist with two non-profit research organizations, the Mars Institute and the SETI Institute. I’m also director of the NASA Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. My research focuses on Mars (in particular the history of water on Mars), asteroids, and the moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos. I also work on advancing the human exploration of Mars. – From Pascal’s Homepage
#1 – What was the impetus for Mission: Mars?
When I was growing up, humans were walking on the Moon. That was amazing to me, and something I had to somehow be a part of. I picked up every book I could find about going to the Moon. My favorites were the ones with pictures and diagrams showing the insides of spacecraft and the workings of spacesuits. They really made a powerful impression on me, and are probably where my interest in science began. Mars is humanity’s next giant leap in space. It’s the challenge of the new generation. I wanted to write a children’s book that would do what the old Apollo books did for me: make kids wonder about going to Mars, and more importantly, get them interested in science at an early age. By chance, Mona Chiang, my future editor at Scholastic, had the same idea. She called me one day and offered me the opportunity to write the very book I had dreamed of writing. That’s how Mission: Mars came to be.
#2 – What kind of journey are you trying to take your readers on?
Mission: Mars is written like a training manual. It takes kids on a basic training mission to become Future Mars Explorers. I wanted to write a book that would show kids the wide range of knowledge and fields that need to come together to make this age-old dream of humanity happen: to journey to another planet.
#3 – Travelling to Mars seems to be on the horizon for space research. Do you think the children of today will be walking on Mars?
Yes. Human journeys to Mars will be the greatest adventure in space exploration this century. The first humans to walk on Mars are already born. They are probably among our children today. I find this thought intriguing. We have kids out there who will one day go to Mars, and we have no idea who they are yet. When I visit schools, I wonder sometimes if I might be meeting some of these future Mars explorers.
#4 – Did you get feedback from kids/parents/teachers?
I’ve had nice feedback from parents and teachers, but my favorites are notes directly from kids. They make my day. For some kids, I get the rewarding feeling that Mission: Mars has reached its goals: get kids interested in space, make science friendly and fun, and above all, encourage them to dream big.
#5 – Are you working on any new books/projects you can tell us about?
Yes, I’m working on another book. It’s also about humans going to Mars, but this time, it will be for grown-ups. The book discusses the what, why, how, when, and who of human missions to Mars. I’m including fun stories about my personal experiences as a planetary scientist, and also lessons learned from doing fieldwork in the Arctic and Antarctica. The book’s working title is From the Earth to Mars.
[Image Credit: http://evolutionexpo.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/webPascal-Lee.jpg ]