Mission to Pluto: The First Visit to an Ice Dwarf and the Kuiper Belt by Mary Kay Carson. January 10, 2017. HMH Books for Young Readers, 80 p. ISBN: 9780544416710. Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.8; Lexile: 940.
In July of 2015 a robotic spacecraft reached Pluto after a nine-and-half-year journey. New Horizons is the first spacecraft mission to Pluto and revealed its five moons as never before seen. Images from the mission show a reddish surface covered in ice-water mountains, moving glaciers, and hints of possible ice volcanoes and an underground ocean. Pluto is geologically alive and changing!
This addition to the Scientists in the Field series goes where no person or spacecraft has ever gone before. Follow along with the team of scientists as they build New Horizons, fly it across the solar system, and make new discoveries about a world three billion miles away.
Potentially Sensitive Areas: None
Booklist (December 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 7))
Grades 5-8. This thrillingly up-to-date entry in the acclaimed Scientists in the Field series traces the history and progress of the exploration of Pluto, with special attention paid to the recent and still ongoing flyby mission, New Horizons. Bolstered by excited interviews with some of the scientists and engineers involved in the New Horizons mission, Carson covers the inception of the project, the construction of the probe, the physics gymnastics involved in collecting data once it finally arrived, and some of the groundbreaking discoveries garnered from those findings. Carson’s descriptions of the concepts are crystal clear and nicely supported by the many color photographs, plenty of which are part of the trove of photos taken by the probe, and diagrams charting, among other things, the probe’s path, Pluto’s geological makeup, and the solar system far beyond the usual eight planets. This enthusiastic, accessible look at both cutting-edge scientific discovery and the dynamic work behind the scenes will be an easy sell to space-mad kids and a valuable addition to any school library.
Kirkus Reviews starred (November 15, 2016)
A team effort sends a space probe to the edge of our solar system.When New Horizons flew by Pluto and sent home data and images in 2015, it was the culmination of a 26-year campaign (and a nine-year journey) and the first-ever exploration of that far-distant ice dwarf planet. Science writer and self-described “space geek” Carson and her photographer husband introduce their comprehensive description of this collaborative mission by showing the jubilant scene at the mission operations center as the spacecraft revealed its first close-up images. Then, chapter by chapter, they explain its purpose; the makeup of the craft and the instruments it carries; the journey across the solar system to Pluto, which was demoted from planet to dwarf planet during the 9 years but turned out to have 4 more moons than previously thought; some major discoveries from this first encounter; and the continuation of the mission into the Kuiper belt of small planets. Sidebars and longer sections called “Mission Briefs” provide additional information. The author’s enthusiasm shines through her clear, conversational narrative, and she quotes from personal interviews as well as press conferences and releases, extending the book’s intimacy. Uhlman’s well-captioned photographs of the team members (mostly white and male) are nicely mixed with photos from NASA and elsewhere and occasional digital illustrations. A worthy companion to Catherine Thimmesh’s Team Moon (2006) with similar appeal. (glossary, web resources, sources, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)
About the Author
Mary Kay Carson is an award-winning children’s nonfiction author. She has written more than thirty books for young people about wildlife, space, weather, nature, and history. Her recent non-fiction titles include Emi and the Rhino Scientist, about the Cincinnati Zoo’s famous rhino mom; Exploring the Solar System, recipient of the 2009 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Children’s Literature Award; The Wright Brothers for Kids; Inside Tornadoes; and the Far-Out Guide to the Solar System series. The author also gives presentations at schools and libraries about space, animals, history, and writing.
Her website is www.marykaycarson.com.
Mission to Pluto Discussion and Activity Guide
New Horizons “Plutopalooza” Toolkit — extensive resources on the Pluto mission.
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Mission to Pluto Publisher Page