Curiosity’s Mission on Mars: Exploring the Red Planet / by Ron Miller. 2.27.2015

Twenty-First Century Books ISBN 9781467710879

MS Grades 6-9 Rating: 5

In November 2011, NASA sent the rover Curiosity to Mars with the aim of learning information about Mar’s climate and geology, and since its landing on Mars in August 2012, Curiosity has provided details in uncovering the past and present Mars.

The first chapter of Ron Miller’s Curiosity’s Mission on Mars explains what Curiosity is and how it was manufactured. Each of the next three chapters describes discoveries Curiosity has made, such as a streambed where water once flowed, rock samples with soil that suggest Mars still has water, and the presence of chemicals necessary for life—sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorous, and carbon.

The full-color maps, diagrams, and photographs on most pages make it easy to hold the attention of students. Sidebars offer helpful added notes–e.g., why friction is necessary for space travel. A two-page index gives a quick resource for students doing a report on the subject, which both middle schooland high school students can use with ease and interest as there is a lot of relevant and applicable information.

Some students will not be interested in the detailed technical sections of the text, but the ample number of photos, illustrations, and sidebars will keep the casual reader involved and also provide opportunities in homeschooling families. Curiosity’s Mission on Mars is not the only title on this subject, but does offer some unique advantages for its intended, younger audience. For example, Mars Up Close: Inside the Curiosity Mission by Marc Kaufman is National Geographic’s enterprise and the only Mars Mission book written in consultation with NASA scientists, but it is directed more to the older student and even adults. Curiosity: An Inside Look at the Mars Rover Mission and the People Who Made It Happen by Rod Pylehas a lot of information too but is less visually appealing and less likely to keep the casual student involved than Miller’s resource.

Leroy Hommerding, CLJ

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