NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover is now on final approach for a February 18th landing on the Red Planet!
NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover on approach to the Red Planet    Courtesy: NASA
In just a few days, the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover is scheduled to land on the surface of Mars. The mission will include the search for signs of ancient life, experiment with converting Martian atmospheric carbon dioxide into oxygen and even gathering rock and soil samples to be retrieved on a future Mars mission. This impressively ambitious rover also carries a little helicopter by the name of Ingenuity. Sometime after touching down in Jezero Crater, the rover will deploy Ingenuity to attempt the first powered test flight on another world. Read on to learn about another special passenger who’s also on board!
Chesley Bonestell (1888-1986)
Mars was a source of continuing fascination for Chesley Bonestell long before there were orbiting space telescopes, space probes, landers or rovers. Indeed, the Red Planet was the subject of over 100 paintings created by him during his lifetime, most of them used to illustrate books and magazines.
Mars as Seen from Deimos by Chesley Bonestell (1948)
We’ve given our newsletter a name, and in this issue of Bonestell Brushstrokes, we’re highlighting a few of Chesley’s most fascinating Martian paintings. We’ve also provided links to short videos taken from the film Chesley Bonestell: A Brush With The Future and from a few Bonus Features that are found only on the Blu-ray edition of this award-winning documentary.
The Surface of Mars (1949)
Over 70 years ago, when “The Surface of Mars” was painted, the notion that there were water canals on the Red Planet was still believed by some scientists. In this painting, Chesley contemplated what explorers might see if they were standing on the thin snowdrifts of the Martian polar cap looking toward the setting sun.  For more about water on Mars, watch an excerpt from our film that features Dr. Lucianne Walkowicz, by clicking on the above painting.
Martian Landscape (1969)
Painted seven years before NASA’s Viking 1 Lander touched down on Mars in 1976, Chesley envisioned two phenomena of the Martian surface and included them in this painting titled “Martian Landscape”…and, lo and behold, there they were!  See if you can identify them in the above picture and then click on it to learn the answers in our Bonus Feature hosted by NASA’s Brian Day.
As detailed in the book, The Exploration of Mars, written by rocket scientists Willy Ley and Wernher von Braun and dazzlingly illustrated by Chesley Bonestell, missions to Mars were being planned as early as 1956. Chesley once told fellow space artist David Aguilar that the Mars ship was the "most elegant ship he ever painted."

“Chesley often provided detailed descriptions of his paintings,” reports Co-Producer Melvin Schuetz, author of A Chesley Bonestell Space Art Chronology. “The illustration appears both on the front dust jacket cover and on the page opposite the title page with the caption: ‘The Mars expedition, 8600 miles from its goal. The ships are approaching tail first.’”
The Exploration of Mars had a huge impact on many people and among them was rocket engineer Rocco Lardiere. Clicking on the image above will take you to a special video where Rocco will share how the book and Chesley’s art changed his life when he was just eleven years old.
Landing on Mars (1956)
Chesley, using the designs of rocket engineer Wernher von Braun, envisioned a horizontal landing on the sandy surface of Mars. This vehicle would then be separated into a rocket that would be launched vertically for the return trip to Earth, as depicted in the painting below. 
Exploring Mars (1953)
“Chesley didn’t leave out Martian atmospheric conditions when he painted Mars,” explains space artist and Co-Producer Ron Miller, author of The Art of Chesley Bonestell. “Since the 1800’s, earth-bound telescopes could detect what appeared to be storms on the Martian surface. ‘A Dust Storm on Mars’ is Chesley’s 1956 painted vision of what visiting astronauts would surely face at some point during their mission.”
A Dust Storm on Mars (1956)
The Perseverance Rover, like its four predecessor rovers, (Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity) will use a parachute during final descent to the Martian surface.
Chesley also saw parachutes being used to bring in supplies to the Red Planet when he painted this scene below almost 60 years ago.
Cargo Ferry Landing on Mars (1963)
Chesley passed away in 1986. His painting, “Twelve Miles Above Mars,” was one of his last to feature the Red Planet.
Twelve Miles Above Mars (1972)
For his contributions that helped inspire the exploration of space, NASA posthumously named a crater on Mars after him in 1997.
Courtesy: NASA
Chesley will land on the Martian surface!
Chesley Bonestell has actually been “on board” the Perseverance Rover ever since it lifted off on July 30, 2020. Thanks to an opportunity provided by NASA, our Associate Producer Christopher Darryn was able to sign Chesley up on the manifest and a “Boarding Pass” was issued. Mounted inside Perseverance are three fingernail-sized silicon wafers. Etched on the wafers are the names of 10,932,295 people who responded to NASA’s “Send Your Name to Mars” campaign. If you happen to be one of them, you might be “sitting” next to the Father of Space Art.
(Courtesy: NASA)
The three chips on board the Perseverance Rover
We salute the extraordinary accomplishments of NASA and JPL for their prior missions to Mars and for this one, which will give Chesley Bonestell a chance to visit the place that intrigued him so much!
-The Chesley Bonestell Team
Note: As it turns out, Mars is very popular these days! In just this past week, the United Arab Emirates Space Agency and the China National Space Administration both announced they have spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet.
Click on the images below to see other short videos on Mars excerpted from our award-winning documentary, Chesley Bonestell: A Brush With The Future and its Bonus Features:
Conquest of Space
Space Artists Don Davis and David Aguilar discuss Chesley’s involvement with this 1955 science-fiction film.

“A Fog-Filled Canal on Mars”
Co-Producer and Author Melvin Schuetz talks about a wonderful painting left to him by Chesley’s widow, Hulda Bonestell. 
  See the entire film!
Want to know where you can experience our award-winning film on Blu-ray, DVD, VOD or Streaming? Just click on the painting above! 
Selected Chesley Bonestell paintings courtesy of Bonestell LLC
Newsletter masthead and Perseverance collage by James Castle
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Copyright © 2021 Chesley Bonestell: A Brush With The Future, All rights reserved.

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