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Life on MarsWhat to Know Before We Go$
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David A. Weintraub

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691209258

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691209258.001.0001

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Imaginary Mars

Imaginary Mars

(p.46) 4 Imaginary Mars
Life on Mars

David A. Weintraub

Princeton University Press

This chapter cites astronomers that began imagining a Mars that was in every way like Earth and began terraforming Mars in their minds in the 1830s. It explores the act of terraforming Mars that would change its physical environment as it would become an Earth-like world where humans could live, with a temperate climate, running water, and a breathable atmosphere. It also talks about Earthbound astronomers in the nineteenth century that could not actually terraform Mars but could reshape their collective understanding of Mars and change it from a hostile world into one where humans, butterflies, and ferns could all live. The chapter emphasizes how imagination combined with herd instinct could become powerful tools for self-deception. It mentions Wolff Beer and Johann Heinrich von Mädler, who carried out the pioneering work of terraforming Mars and carried out a program of repeated observations of Mars from 1831 through 1839.

Keywords:   Mars, Earth-like world, terraforming, Earthbound astronomers, Wolff Beer, Johann Heinrich von Mädler

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