Western geography professor Phil Stooke’s recent book, The International Atlas of Mars Exploration: From Spirit to Curiosity, has been recognized by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) as an outstanding academic title.

His research builds off of his first book, The International Atlas of Mars Exploration: The First Five Decades, which covers the initial years of Mars exploration. His second volume details the movements of the Mars rovers along with other explorative endeavours of the planet.

Each year, the ACRL assembles a list of works that best display excellence in their fields, as well as their value to undergraduate students and undergraduate libraries. According to the association, about 7,000 works are reviewed each year with approximately 10 per cent of those works being selected as outstanding academic titles.

This is the second time that Stooke’s work has been recognized by the association — The International Atlas of Mars Exploration: The First Five Decades was given the same recognition in 2012.

In regards to future exploration, Stooke is aware that some people may be critical of its necessity. However, he asserts that the exploration of Mars does contribute to scientific discussions. 

“There’s an enormous amount of interesting science to come out of studying the moon, Mars and other places, but it’s also very inspiring," Stooke said. "You’re seeing beautiful new landscapes and learning really interesting new things and so there’s a kind of inspirational component to it as well.”

Stooke first became interested in planetary research as a teenager watching the Apollo astronauts’ moon landings.

“For a long time I was interested in it as a hobby," said Stooke. "And then I thought, 'This is crazy, I’m going to turn my hobby into a career.' And luckily I made it work. It’s not necessarily straightforward to do that but it worked out for me.”

Stooke currently teaches courses based on space exploration, planetary science and both introductory and advanced cartography classes at Western.

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