Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Out of This World Pick: Mission To Pluto: The First Visit to an Ice Dwarf and the Kuiper Belt
(Scientists in the Field book)
by Mary Kay Carson
Photos by Tom Uhlman
Illustrations by Jennifer Goldstick
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
What a book! What a mission! It will make readers proud to be an American!
The first voyage to Pluto is the farthest that a mission has traveled at 3 billion miles, 4.8 billion kilometers) and it took 9 1/2 years! The mission is NASA's New Horizons Mission and is led by Alan Stern who dreamed of the mission for over 30 years.
Pluto and the Kuiper Belt has been shrouded in mystery since its discovery. Because it is so distant, scientists were unable to see it with telescopes until newer technology of the 2000's. New Horizons (the spacecraft) found that Pluto is covered with ice, carbon monoxide frost and snow with methane. Science believes there may be an underground ocean as well. It may take years to sort all the information gathered by New Horizons, but that is what excites NASA.
There are many firsts for this mission including the fact that New Horizons is the first mission to include an instrument built by a student. The spacecraft is able to get to Pluto and beyond because most of its electronics are in "hibernation" mode for years.
The book contains illustrations explaining the equipment and helpful diagrams enhance the text. Although cutting edge technology allowed the spacecraft to "hibernate," downloading photos from 3 billion miles away took two entire years from space! Imagine trying to view a photo on your phone that took two years to download!
Many early Pluto theories have been debunked by New Horizons Mission. Pluto is much larger than what scientists thought. Not just an ice planet, Pluto is changing planet geologically and may have ice volcanoes.
The mission is not over. New Horizons is currently on its journey to the Kuiper Belt. NASA estimates that New Horizons will arrive sometime in 2019 and then travel beyond into deep space until it runs out of plutonium.
Space enthusiasts will devour this fascinating book! Readers will be CAPTIVATED by Carson's narration as she presents scientific data in a accessible manner and makes this a story worth reading. Photos from New Horizons are life-changing!
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.