Asteroids bombard our atmosphere all the time. Some are harmless, burning up in a flash of light. But others explode with a great sonic boom, smashing windows and throwing people to the ground. Worst of all, some asteroids strike our planet, blasting out massive craters and destroying everything nearby on impact.
Follow the award-winning author Elizabeth Rusch into the field with scientists as they search for dangerous asteroids in space, study asteroids that have smashed into the ground, and make plans to prevent an asteroid strike if one ever threatens our planet.
Part of Series: Scientists in the Field
Potentially Sensitive Areas: None
Booklist (November 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 6))
Grades 6-9. An asteroid crashes through the Earth’s atmosphere, hurtling toward the Russian town of Chelyabinsk, its blast injuring more than 1,500 people. This scene isn’t from the latest sf movie but the opening of this volume in the acclaimed Scientists in the Field series. With approximately 350 asteroids scattering meteorites across the Earth’s surface each year, scientists study asteroids and the dangers they pose. Each chapter looks at a related topic through the lens of a scientist and his or her work, such as Marc Fries, a meteorite hunter and curator of space rocks for NASA. Other chapters focus on how geologists deduced that an asteroid impact caused the extinction of dinosaurs and how astronomers search for asteroids from Earth and in space. The final and perhaps most riveting chapter looks at proposed approaches to stopping a potentially hazardous asteroid. Accompanied by photographs of scientists in action and requisite space shots, the book concludes with citizen science connections and resources and is sure to have an impact on young astronomers.
Kirkus Reviews (October 1, 2017)
In space and on Earth, scientists study asteroids in hopes of avoiding a disaster like the one that befell the dinosaurs.In this latest title in the long-running series, the author of The Mighty Mars Rover (2012) introduces researchers investigating smaller solar-orbiting space rocks: asteroids. Opening with a gripping description of fourth-graders’ experience of an asteroid strike in Russia in 2013, she explains what and where asteroids are and how they threaten our planet. Subsequent chapters follow several scientists: meteorite hunters; an impact crater specialist who explores Meteor Crater near Flagstaff, Arizona; an astronomer who uses a major telescope in Arizona to look for unknown near-Earth asteroids; the (female) principle investigator for NASA’s Near Earth Object Wide Infrared Survey Explorer mission; and an Indian-American astronomer, also working in Arizona (and the only nonwhite scientist profiled), identifying the origin of meteorites. One, David Kring, is the man whose research led to the identification of the crater off Yucatan left by the asteroid that changed Earth’s climate, causing the extinction of 75 percent of plants and animals alive at the time, including dinosaurs. Rusch concludes with a short list of possible methods for dealing with an asteroid that actually threatens Earth and includes a long, useful list of books and websites for reader involvement and further research. Lavishly illustrated with Anderson’s photographs, this wide-ranging sample of asteroid science presumes quite a bit of previous knowledge but will reward the enthusiast. (Nonfiction. 12-16)
About the Author
Elizabeth Rusch is an award-winning book author, magazine writer, editor, writing teacher and speaker. Her wide-ranging passions include astronomy, volcanology, art, music, history, nature, waves, jokes, crayons, and mud — anything that catches her fancy. She is inspired by stories of exploration and discovery, stories that have been overlooked by history, and stories that grapple with persistent questions. Whether writing fiction or nonfiction for children or adults or teaching workshops, she hopes her work opens doors, opens minds, opens possibilities. Her website is elizabethrusch.com
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