Just a week ago, I wrote about The Mighty Ted. This week, it is the mighty Spirit and the mighty Opportunity, NASA's Mars surface rovers that far exceeded the expectations of scientists and engineers in 2004. Both went about taking pictures and soil samples and then relaying data back to Earth beyond their three month missions. In fact, Opportunity in still chugging away. Science writer Elizabeth Rusch tells their stories in The Mighty Mars Rovers: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity.
The narrative begins on Earth with the dreams of science kid Steven Squyres, who got his first telescope at eight and tried to build a robot when he was nine. Of course, he grew up to be a NASA scientist whose proposal for Mars rovers was commissioned in the year 2000. Rusch tells how in less than four years Steve and a team of engineers, scientists, and contractors built the two rovers sent to opposite sides of the our sister planet. The story continues with the nail-biting landing and difficult explorations across the rock-strewn and sometimes sandy Martian surface.
Though aimed at late elementary or middle school readers, this book is perfect for an adult wanting to revisit the years of rover activity. It is a slim but substantial book. I spent about three hours reading and studying the many photos and maps of Mars. With the recent landing of Curiosity on Mars, this is a great time to put The Mighty Mars Rovers on display in libraries and bookstores.
Rusch, Elizabeth. The Mighty Mars Rovers: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012. 79p. ISBN 9780547478814.