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How We'll Live on Mars

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  1,667 ratings  ·  214 reviews
Award-winning journalist Stephen Petranek says humans will live on Mars by 2027. Now he makes the case that living on Mars is not just plausible, but inevitable.

It sounds like science fiction, but Stephen Petranek considers it fact: Within twenty years, humans will live on Mars. We'll need to. In this sweeping, provocative book that mixes business, science, and human repor
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published July 7th 2015 by Simon Schuster/ TED (first published October 7th 2014)
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Petra is skipping Mon & going straight to Tue
What is it with journalists writing books? They are used to writing short-format articles with a catchy headline, interesting first paragraph and then perhaps the history of the subject and details revealed until the final summing up. This doesn't translate into a book at all even though the author tries hard to extend the format to book-length.

The catchy headline is the title, How We'll Live on Mars. The history, which is extensive and no more than mildly interesting concentrates on Wernher von
Claudia Putnam
Ish. Very light and glossy. Plus annoyingly proselytizing. Full of unsupported and unsupportable assumptions/assertions, such as that with 50K people on Mars we could preserve the sum of human wisdom for eternity, or something like that. Really? Preserve all of what the Amazonian tribes know? Preserve which and what wisdoms, exactly?

That is, the lens was, well, a lens. I'm guessing he means the wisdom that brought you the iPhone and well, Mars. Also the wisdom that messed up Earth and necessita
Many years ago, when the various Mars orbiters and landers were but drawings on paper, NASA made an important decision – to “follow the water.” The goal wasn’t to focus on colonizing a planet; it was intended to help in the hunt for alien life. No water, no life. It now seems a bit ironic that NASA’s insistence on investigating whether or not there is life on Mars has in fact led us to a completely different understanding: that there can be life on Mars – human life.

Stephen Petranek offers a cra
Barry Hammond
Jul 04, 2015 rated it liked it
This caught my eye because, several weeks back, I'd read "The Martian" by Andy Weir, which is about all the things that can go wrong with a Mars mission. Wondering what a positive, factual view might look like, I picked up this TED talk by Stephen Petranek. It's an interesting take on the past, present, and future of Mars exploration full of fascinating facts. I still think it's a pretty hostile environment, where any inevitable mistake or accident will result in death but man does like to explo ...more
Jackie B!
Jul 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
How We'll Live On Mars is a small book but an interesting read! I got this book (really it's a TED talk put into book form) from the publishers booth at a local convention and just threw it into my bag along with all my other little freebies and thought nothing of it until I got home. When I actually pulled it out and read the dust jacket I was instantly intrigued! Petranek outlines all the questions and possible answers about how we'll live on Mars in this book. Now I can't wait to move to the ...more
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book details the history of space travel from Wernher von Braun to SpaceX. It goes over the current plans to send a peopled mission to Mars, including Mars One. But there's little to no talk about actually *living* on Mars.

Nothing is covered in depth. Nothing original or new is discussed. There's nothing in this book you can't learn from browsing Wikipedia. This book has little to no value to those who are already interested in space travel. It's also a little too boring to be good for insp
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you're interested in the title, I think you'll find this tiny book really enjoyable. It reads like non-fiction, but clearly it's only a best-guess at what the future holds. Very discussion-worthy. The National Geographic TV series, "Mars" is only loosely based on this book and consuming one had little effect on my enjoyment of the other.

I gave up on space in about 1999, figuring that without the government it wouldn't happen. But Elon Musk's presentation this summer rekindled the spark of hop
Frederick Gault
Aug 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
A very lightweight overview of the issues around putting humans on Mars. The author skips over the daunting barriers to success with a wave of the hand. The money to put a handful of people on Mars is staggering, the reasons for going are poorly defined. The idea that a colony on Mars would be profitable is hard to believe. But most annoying is the idea that we need Mars as a "backup" for the human race. Forget taking care of the planet we already have! We'll just go to Mars and spend Trillions ...more
Jul 11, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
audio book
Many of the facts and hypothesis are well known and he gathers them into a stable measure. But I do not have faith that he is telling all. When I read or listen to someone who is explaining something to me I have an open-mind; that is until some of their statements or obvious omissions exhibit bias. i.e. when he is explaining culture migration, he talks about Magellan' expedition. He stated that Magellan was killed by "hostile natives". Books that I have read about the event leads me t
Karel Baloun
Dec 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Concise and hopeful intro to humanity's Mars project. Great for kids -- connects human's primal urge to explore with the science and tools that open our next phase of discovery.

We will be a multi-planet species in 15-30 years.

I agree with other reviewers that this isn't a perfect book -- bold generalizations from selected facts bring this closer to science based sci-fi. Especially on psychology and economics his evidence is way too thin, and his biology/genomics is pure speculation.

(Oxygen consu
Nick D
Feb 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Very brief intro to the topic of Mars colonization but maybe a good place to start. I'm most interested in the aspects of terraforming and growing plants on Mars. One major obstacle to the that is the high levels of radiation that would be harmful to plants (and all other organisms) without a magnetosphere. Growing would likely have to be underground or at the very least in a shielded building, which may not be enough in the event of a solar flare. ...more
Chad Gagnon
Mar 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Essentially was a cliff notes edition of much more thorough pieces of literature. The most captivating aspect of this book was Elon Musk. Given that this book was written just a handful of years ago, it’s astonishing to think of the quantum leaps that Elon and SpaceX have done for space exploration and bringing hypothetical aspects of this book to reality.
Francine Chu
Apr 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
First thing that comes to mind: impossible! But Petranek not only show how possible it is, he does it so that even a layperson can see it. Really exciting read!
Jasmin Chua
May 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Impeccably detailed without being overly technical, though the anti-NASA rhetoric could have done with a tad toning down.
Eh, skip the book, watch the NatGeo TV series based on it.
Michael Pryor
Feb 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Clear, direct, concise.
Owais Ahmad
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
What are the things we need to live on Mars and how we 'll get them, that is what this book is all about. Its a good read, little bit of more details would have made it better. ...more
Jon Stout
Nov 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: explorers and expatriots
Recommended to Jon by: Ben Perry
My grandfather used to say that his life had gone from the first flight of the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk in 1903 to the landing of Neil Armstrong on the moon in 1969. As a child of the 1950’s, I was acutely aware when the Russians launched the first artificial satellite in 1957, and now, parallel to my grandfather, I expect to see human beings colonizing Mars in the remaining years of my life.

How We’ll Live on Mars, a companion book to a TED Talk, is a great book for an enthusiast like mysel
Denver Public Library
Nov 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
I’ve wanted to go to space basically my entire life. One thing that’s always interested me is how we’ll live there- what you can eat, how a different gravity will feel, and if a human could really handle never being outside in the open air again. How We’ll Live on Mars covers a lot of this and explains all sorts of neat little details about living on another planet without getting bogged down by minutiae. I learned that I’m going to have to eat bugs because it’s the best kind of consistent prote ...more
Jun 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

It is difficult for me to review this book. Normally I find more positive things to say about a book than negatives. Personally this book raised many ethical questions for me and I found my self shouting out excerpts of the book to my husband and then listing 5 or 6 reasons why I disagreed with the theories in the book.

Even with the discussions the author laid out, I find this still to be more science fiction than science fact. Granted
Apr 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: space, technology
Great little book about space travel to Mars in the hopes of making the planet habitable. In this book, which can be read in about an hour, the author briefly examines the following:

What has stood in our way of going to Mars?
Could we have been there already?
What are the implications of key decisions NASA made?
Did we use our budget wisely?
How have politics affected the space budget?
What can we do with such a limited budget?
What explorers have we already sent to the moon, space station, and Mar
Susan Beamon
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In this slim, little TED Talks book of 77 pages, we are given why we need to go to Mars and why we haven't made it there yet and what we will have to do once we get there, with a minor sidetrip to the asteroid belt. That is a lot for so small a book, but it is sponsored by the folks at TED Talks, where you get a ton of information in 18 minutes or less. I remember watching the moon landing in 1969 and dreaming I would visit my grandchildren on Mars. That is a dream that won't come true. Once the ...more
Dan Carey
Jul 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Overall, Petranek's book is well written, concise, and easily consumable by a mass audience. That said, if you have read more than one or two recent books about Mars, there's not much here for you that's new. And if you're really interested in the subject of humans living on Mars, Robert Zubrin's The Case for Mars is much more satisfying. But Petranek's book is one I can loan to people who are mildly curious about the subject. ...more
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
How We'll Live on Mars was a very well written and well researched book. I discovered a lot of things about our space adventures of which I was not aware. Werner Von Braun was a really intelligent man. The pictures in the book are beautiful.

I recommend this book to anyone with an adventurous spirit or who is interested in space travel/colonization/discovery.

I received this book free from Goodreads First Reads.
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the coolest books of the century! Just a I simple guide on how we will live on Mars, quite literally.
Jul 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice and short look at what it will take to get us to Mars by 2027. While there probably isn't any new information here for fans of this topic, this will provide a quick summary of the obstacles a Mars Mission/Colony will face. Wouldn't it be cool if we actually did make it to Mars by 2027?! ...more
Clay Davis
Mostly fluff with some good points. Had no idea about the number of people Elon Musk wants to send to Mars. No mention of the massive dust storms on Mars.
Stephen Collins
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: brain-food, read-2017
Over the Christmas break, I watched the National Geographic Channel's excellent drama-cum-documentary series Mars . A couple of episodes in, as one of the documentary sequences interviewed Stephen L. Petranek, I had a moment of realisation: hang on, I have this book, and it's one I haven't read yet!

To the Bookcave, Batman!

Petranek's How We'll Live On Mars, like all the TED Books series is short and sharp. It's fewer than 100 pages, designed to be read in a single sitting (or maybe two, if you
Feb 06, 2020 added it
Humans will go to Mars, no doubt. Hundreds, probably. But it won't be to colonize the planet, but to do science. The fundamental scientific question: to see if a Mars colony can be actually made viable, and what the experience tells us about whether further human adventuring through the solar system outside Earth's magnetosphere is in principle even feasible.
I think that terraforming Mars requires an atmosphere, and that in turn requires a supply of greenhouse gases. At present, recent studies
Howard Gibbins
May 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is extremely informative and provided the source material for the docu-drama "Mars" which gives a fictional review of what might be encountered by astronauts going to the Red planet, interspersed with an examination of the current rather sad state of the space program.

Mr. Petranek begins with a basic overview of the space program from its impetus to approximately the 1980s. He deals a fair bit of time with Werner von Braun’s proposal “Das Marsprojekt” for missions to Mars that he began
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Reading Along Wit...: Stephen Petranek: “How We’ll Live On Mars” 1 10 Jul 21, 2015 06:46AM  

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“If we get it wrong, if we repeat the mistakes of our past, the consequences could be devastating. But if we get it right, the potential benefits to the future of humanity are astonishing.” 3 likes
“When the first humans set foot on Mars, the moment will be more significant in terms of technology, philosophy, history, and exploration than any that have come before it, all because we will no longer be a one-planet species.” 1 likes
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