Academic journal article Science Scope

Curiosity's Mission on Mars

Academic journal article Science Scope

Curiosity's Mission on Mars

Article excerpt

By Ron Miller. $33.26. 64 pp. Twenty-First Century Books. Frederick, MD. 2014. ISBN: 9781467710879.

In Curiosity's Mission on Mars: Exploring the Red Planet, author Ron Miller concisely summarizes the history of Mars exploration to date. He mentions the impressive accomplishments of the original Mariner and Viking missions and how the later Pathfinder/Sojourner Mission laid the groundwork for the highly successful Spirit and Opportunity missions of 2004.

Miller also gives credit to the Mars orbiters and to the Phoenix lander, which investigated the soil composition near the Martian north pole. Curiosity, which landed on Mars in 2012, has far exceeded prior rovers in complexity, flexibility, computing power, and data analysis. Miller's descriptions of Curiosity's tools are detailed and engrossing. Although devices with names such as the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer may at first seem too complex to engage students' interest, Miller describes Curiosity's technology and its tasks in understandable terms. Both the level of detail of what we have learned about the Martian environment and the ability of Curiosity's machines to adjust "on the fly" to unexpected conditions are genuinely stunning. …

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