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The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity

Five, four, three, two, one…liftoff! On June 10, 2003, a little rover named Spirit blasted off on a rocket headed for Mars. Less than a month later, a twin rover named Opportunity soared through the solar system with the same mission: to find out if Mars ever had water that could have supported life. Totally dependent on solar power, which is scarce during harsh Martian winters, Spirit and Opportunity were expected to survive for three months. Instead, in what may well be the most successful space mission ever, the two go-cart-sized, six-wheeled rovers explored the red planet for more than six years. Opportunity has driven farther than anyone can believe, and Spirit survived so many impossible situations that engineers call her “the Indiana Jones of Mars.” Defying all expectations, Opportunity is still exploring!

This thrilling addition to the acclaimed Scientists in the Field series, The Mighty Mars Rovers tells the greatest space robot adventure of all time through the eyes—and heart—of Steven Squyres, professor of astronomy at Cornell University and lead scientist on the mission. Join Steve as he sweats through the rover’s dramatic landings, puzzle with him and his team as they figure out how to make delicate rovers explore deep craters and travel up the sides of jagged mountains, and hold your breath with Steve as Spirit and Opportunity find themselves in grave danger again and again. 

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Year Published: June 19, 2012

ISBN-10: 054747881X
ISBN-13: 978-0547478814


~ Oregon Spirit Award winner ~

~ Orbis Pictus Honor, NCTE ~
~ ALA Notable Children's Book ~
~ Bankstreet Best Children's Book ~
~ Booklist's Top 10 Science and Health Books for Youth ~
~ Best Book of 2012, New York Public Library ~
~ Best Book of 2012, Kirkus ~
~ Best Book of 2012, School Library Journal ~
~ Outstanding Science Trade Book, NSTA ~
~ YALSA Nonfiction Award nominee ~
~ Junior Library Guild selection~
~ Crystal Kite Award finalist~
~ Oregon Spirit Book Award winner ~
~ Arizona's Children's Choice Award finalist (Grand Canyon Award) ~


THE HORN BOOK,★ Starred Review



KIRKUS, ★ Starred Review

“Enthralling…Stellar…Edge-of-your-seat reading”


 This is edge-of-your-seat reading as the author explains how setbacks were handled. Readers are not only drawn in by the dedication, hard work and emotions of the people involved, but they will also, like the scientists themselves, feel proprietary toward the rovers—and, fortunately, there’s an update about them...Another stellar outing in the consistently excellent Scientists in the Field series. How extraordinary to visit Mars in Spirit; readers will be very glad of the Opportunity.

BOOKLIST, Starred Review

“A book that space technology fans won’t want to miss”


This well-designed volume offers insights into the scientist’s work as well as a very informative account of the mission. Quotes are used very effectively, both in the text and as dramatic headlines superimposed on photos. Sidebars fill in details on topics such as the communication with the rovers and names of physical features on Mars. Well documented and fully illustrated with many colorful photos and digital images, this is a book that space technology fans won’t want to miss. —Carolyn Phelan



 “This detailed look at planning, implementing, maintaining, and troubleshooting a highly complex scientific mission puts a human face on an incredible accomplishment.”


Rusch covers not only the scientific aspects of Mars exploration but also the personalities of the people who made it happen, and profiles the rovers themselves, Spirit and Opportunity. Her comprehensive research shines through in her detailed style as she zeroes in on the behind-the-scenes efforts of launching a scientific mission. Full-color photographs on every page in this picture-book-size volume illuminate the Mars surface and the faces of the scientists as they agonize over communication difficulties and computer glitches and exult over the thrill of discovery.


GOODREADS, Five Stars ★★★★★

“Fascinating, inspiring, and ultimately humbling”


 The author relates their missions in an edge-of-the-seat style, luring readers into the story and making them care about Spirit's broken wheel and Opportunity's months spent trapped into the sand. It's intriguing to consider how the rovers were "driven" by someone on Earth, and how frustrating it must have been to wait for signals indicating the vehicles were okay. Although readers hear from many of those involved in the project, the author returns to Steven Squyres, an astronomy professor at Cornell, whose words seem to capture perfectly the way the team felt about this mission....The book is filled with photographs that almost make it seem as though readers have made their own trip to Mars. Fascinating, inspiring, and ultimately humbling, this book is sure to intrigue the budding scientists in your classroom or home, and although machines clearly are just that--machines--it's hard not to internalize lessons from these vehicles that just never seem to quit, continuing on against all odds while those on the ground tried to come up with solutions to the problems they faced on Mars.



“An incredible story of science and perseverance…Hand this one to young star-gazers and budding astrophysicists and engineers”


he Mighty Mars Rovers is an incredible story of science and perseverance, of problem-solving from millions of miles away. You already know that any book in the Scientists in the Field series will provide rich back matter, incredible photos, and an inside look into the life of a scientist. What sets this book apart is Elizabeth Rusch's ability to bring the Mars rovers to life. Of course the scientists that worked on them for so long and had so much invested in their success would feel a connection to them. Rusch is able to bring that across to the reader. Perhaps it's because they look a little like WALL-E*, but Rusch creates characters out of Spirit and Opportunity. She allows readers to get to know them and cheer on their triumphs as their scientists pushed them to achieve more than anyone thought was possible.



“readers – and that will likely include fascinated adults– will be not only amazed but also emotionally engrossed”

The Mighty Mars Rovers is a book about science and scientists, about interplanetary exploration, about plenty of cold, hard facts – but, even more interestingly, about tremendous human warmth as it enwraps not only the team members handling the mission but also the so-far-off mechanical-and-electronic “beings” performing the mission’s work at a distance of some 48,000,000 miles....By the book’s end, readers – and that will likely include fascinated adults, even though The Mighty Mars Rovers is intended primarily for children – will be not only amazed but also emotionally engrossed in the story, and the pictures of scientists showing their intense emotions during the mission will come to make perfect sense. The rovers were never alive, but they take on a distinct life and distinctive personalities throughout this story of hard work, trouble and triumph.

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