Readers of the book bunnies blog know that Caramel loves nonfiction books where he can learn about real things. See for example his review of a book on samurai, another on knights and castles, another on elements and the periodic table, yet another on dinosaurs, and finally another on engineering. Today Caramel shares his thoughts on a neat book by Alexandra Siy: Cars on Mars: Roving the Red Planet. As always, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.
Sprinkles: So Caramel, tell us about this book.
Caramel: It’s about rovers.
S: What is a rover?
C: They are vehicles that go on Mars or other planets. When humans can’t go there themselves, they send the rovers to the planet to explore. They rove it.
S: Hmm, the dictionary definition of roving is “travel constantly without a fixed destination; wander”. So I guess these vehicles go around a planet just exploring and recording and measuring and so on, right?
C: Yep, basically.
S: So this book is about the rovers on Mars. Why is that important?
C: Because we want to know what is on Mars. It apparently has tons of iron.
S: Is that why it is called the red planet?
C: Yes. Iron is red.
S: Apparently Romans called it Mars because red reminded them of blood and war and Mars was their god of war. And Greeks called it Ares because Ares was their god of war. But today we are still very interested in Mars. Why do you think this is so?
C: It’s a planet that is kind of like earth in many ways and it is one of the closest. And maybe we can use the iron in there.
S: There is a lot of iron on earth too, so we do not really need to go to Mars for it, but it is of course interesting to learn about other planets, especially one so close to ours! and for many years people thought there were other living things on Mars. Have you heard of Orson Welles and his radio play about the Martian Invasion?
C: No I did not know about that! It sounds very interesting. Can we listen to it?
S: Yes, after we are done with this post, we will definitely listen to this recording. So let us get back to our book. What else would you like to tell us about it?
C: The book has many pictures of Mars and the rovers. There is Spirit and then there is Opportunity. And the book ends with this:
Although they found proof of past water on Mars (mission accomplished!), Spirit and Opportunity keep on keepin’ on. Noone knows when or where they will finally stop. But Steve and everyone else who is part of this far-out road trip hope that some day there will be tire tracks and footprints, side by side, on Mars.
S: That ends on a really positive note. But we now know that Spirit did not go on for too much longer and stopped communicating in 2010. Opportunity did go on for a lot longer, till 2018. So this book is a snapshot of the life stories of these two rovers.
C: Right. And you can learn a lot about Mars and space travel and making vehicles that can go around on other planets when you read it.
S: That sounds like a good read to me. And you can check out this NASA page to learn more about the newer rovers and more generally about NASA’s Mars program. What do you want to say last?
C: Stay tuned for more book bunnies adventures!