Painting the Heavens

Artist Chesley Bonestell’s vision remains ahead of his—and our—time.

chesley bonestell

The names of nearly 11 million people made it to Mars on the Perseverance rover (they were stenciled onto three chips by NASA engineers wielding an electron beam machine). One name, however, had been associated with space travel long before many of the other “passengers.” California painter Chesley Bonestell, who was born in 1888, depicted Saturn from its moons and visualized life on Mars decades before humans first made it to space, and his visions have continued to inspire those reaching for the stars (Bonestell’s Saturn from Mimas graced the cover of Alta Journal’s Summer 2020 issue). NASA presented a posthumous boarding pass to Bonestell, who died in 1986. He finally got to witness the landscapes he spent his career imagining.•

chesley bonestell boarding pass

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of Alta Journal.

Jessica Blough is an assistant editor at Alta Journal.
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