Mars - the Red Planet - is barren, and has almost no atmosphere and a temperature ranging from near-zero to 120 degrees below. No water flows, and there is no evidence that life has ever existed there. Yet, as Earth's nearest neighbour, it has always exerted a powerful hold on man's imagination: the astronomer Lowell thought he'd discovered canals, H.G. Wells speculated on the Red Planet's inhabitants' invasion of Earth, and many other science-fiction writers have used Mars as a setting. Based on a computer program that produces near-photographic images of the topographical changes that follow climatic change, this is a description of how this virtually dead planet could be given an atmosphere, running water, and vegetation. Taking as his starting point Mons Olympus, the highest mountain in the solar system, Arthur C. Clarke creates detailed "photographs" of the Martian surface and then shows how the landscape would change as vegetation began to thrive and water to flow. He speculates about how this might happen, about the journey to Mars, and about what living on the planet might be like.
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