My brain is in a heavy pre-trip mode, since I'm heading back to India on Friday for a week of seminars and customer visits in Bangalore and Delhi. So I'm really focused on work, finishing up some projects and preparing for my presentations. My inoculations and new 10-year India visa are all set, and I've got my anti-malaria prescription and my "just in case" antibiotics. So I'm ready to roll and in my spare time, of course I've been reading a travel book about... Mars!
When I wrote about planetary scientist and artist William K. Hartmann last week, I got out his Traveler's Guide to Mars, which I've had for some time but had previously only browsed. So I started reading it, and it's great! Dozens of pictures from Viking and Mars Global Surveyor; brief and nicely written chapters focused on key features of Mars and their history and meaning; and a series of personal history "side bars" called "My Martian Chronicles" (which date back to Mariner 4 in the early sixties - Hartmann got into the Mars space probe business at the beginning).
This is a wonderful book for really getting to know Mars. Although Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will be producing higher resolution views of Mars over the next few years, you still need to know the "lay of the land" to put it all in context, and this book is perfect in that role.