The Mighty Mars Rovers

by on August 8th, 2012
The Mighty Mars Rovers Cover Image

If you have been following the adventures of the latest Mars rover, Curiosity, pick up the story a little earlier with The Mighty Mars Rovers: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity by Elizabeth Rusch. Beginning with the determined plans of Steven Squyres (rejected by NASA eight times before being taken on) to send a “geologist” to Mars, Rusch tracks the development of the twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.

From their launch in 2003, their many accomplishments as well as the bumps along the way are documented through thrilling photographs and in-depth interviews with Squyres and others on the 4000-strong team that created and managed the rovers. While not the first expeditions to Mars, they were the most successful and certainly the longest, exceeding their expected life span of three months by, well, read and find out how these intrepid little rovers fared. You will find yourself cheering along for them and their human support crew as they encounter and overcome obstacle after obstacle.  The book ends with information about the Curiosity rover with clear explanations about what it hopes to accomplish that Spirit and Opportunity could not as well as the many similarities between the rovers.

Opportunity at the Endeavour Rim

The interdisciplinary nature of space exploration means there are a multitude of talents involved. As in Team Moon by Catherine Thimmesh the extent of the teamwork and involvement from so many different engineers and scientists from so many places amazes me. “It was so complicated that not a single one of us fully understood what was going on,” said Squyer. I highly recommend The Mighty Mars Rovers to anyone interested in space exploration, teamwork or involved in robotics competitions. It continues the tradition of exposing children to the amazing possibilities of science of earlier titles in the Scientists in the Field series.

Spirit Finds Silica Rich Soil

NASA happily shares many of the images and findings from its missions. Check out the Spirit and Opportunity Mission page as well as  Curiosity’s Mission page including video of its landing and some of the hundreds of pictures it has already sent back to earth. For quirkier updates, follow @MarsCuriosity on Twitter. As well as photos and video from Mars, you can enjoy its exchanges with scientists like Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Photographs from nasa.gov. 

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