STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books

This week we’re going to Mars!

Mission to Mars, by Mary Kay Carson

Sterling Children’s Books, 2018

In your lifetime people could be headed to Mars. So author Mary Kay Carson begins her book by comparing Mars to Earth. Both planets are tilted, so Mars has seasons just like Earth does. And both have days that are similar in length – Mars days are 37 minutes longer than Earth days. But a Mars year lasts 687 days, and it’s a lot colder. Think Antarctica. Now think even colder!

What I like about this book: Carson shares history of Mars exploration, from telescope to landers, orbiters, and the more recent rovers that roll across the desert-like landscape. The rovers send images back to earth, as well as data from their onboard labs that can detect bacteria and other signs of life. Carson goes into detail about what sort of evidence for life one might hope to find on the dry, cold planet.

Scientists continue discovering new information from the red planet. Just a couple years ago an orbiting satellite found evidence of water on Mars. And sometime in the next weeks, NASA plans to launch a new mission to Mars – perhaps as early as tomorrow (May 5) called InSight.

“NASA scientists want to know if Mars has a hot, liquid center like Earth, and how thick its outer crust layer is,” writes Carson. As for future manned missions to Mars, humans will go there someday, she says. “We already have a lot of the technology and know-how.” And should you think you might want to be one of the astronauts heading to Mars, there’s a checklist at the end so you can determine if you’re “mission ready”.

Curiosity: the Story of a Mars Rover, by Markus Motum

Candlewick Press, 2018

Wherever you are in the world right now, I’m a very long way away. I’m not even on the same planet as you.

On August 6, 2012, the rover Curiosity touched down on the surface of Mars. This book is the story about her mission: to discover more about Mars and search for evidence of life.

What I like about this book: Curiosity tells her story in first person. How often do you get to read a story told by a Mars rover? First she tells why she was sent to Mars. It’s a hostile environment for humans, so she and her rover sisters and orbiter buddies can send lots of good information back home to help humans get ready for a voyage. Curiosity takes us on a field trip to the lab where she was built and gives us the inside scoop on the tools she carries and her power source (plutonium).Then – her trip to Mars, and the tension-filled deployment from orbit to the surface. Of course she took a selfie!

Head over to Archimedes Notebook for Beyond the Book links and activities.

STEM Friday

It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Copyright © 2018 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.

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Author: Sue Heavenrich

I write about science and environmental issues for children and their families.

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