Scientists in the Field series
by Elizabeth Rusch; Photos by Karin Anderson
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2017
Grades 4 and up
Note: Cathy is still on Sabbatical and will return March 2018. Until her return, Louise is managing the blog.
Approximately sixty-five million years ago, a massive asteroid, “roughly six miles wide, smashed into Earth, sending iridium around the globe and the dinosaurs to their death.” Is it possible another asteroid is headed towards Earth and could end life as we know it?
In this latest entry in the very popular Scientists in the Field series, award-winner nonfiction writer, Elizabeth Rusch investigates the probability of an asteroid colliding with Earth and what can be done to prevent it by interviewing scientists who study them.
Meteorite hunters are individuals who travel around the globe to areas where meteors have fallen to collect these important space rocks before they start to break down. Studying the actual fragments from an asteroid helps scientists get a more accurate picture of the meteor’s composition and where it might have come from. David Kring, a senior scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas has spent more than a decade studying an area in Arizona named, Meteor Crater. This “550 foot crater, 2.3 miles around, is believed to have been blasted out by an asteroid impact roughly fifty thousand years ago.”
There are also scientists, and amateurs, who spend their evenings scanning the night skies, looking for moving objects that could be potential asteroids. The key is discovering whether its orbit is on a collision course with Earth. With this knowledge, scientists are making plans to destroy any asteroid on that trajectory.
As with all books in this series, the writing is engaging and loaded with side bars giving more information on topics discussed within the text. Each page is illustrated with well-captioned, color photographs by Karin Anderson that mirror the text. Back matter includes a bibliography, glossary, source notes, and index.
What I liked is the What You Can Do! section that encourages readers to get involved in discovering, tracking, spotting an asteroid as a flash in the sky, tips for collecting meteorite fragments, and also helping NASA come up with ideas on how to search and destroy (or Deflect) an asteroid.
For science lovers of all grades, because of the chapter on how dinosaurs became extinct would make this book an easy sell to those who love anything about dinosaurs.
To write this review, I borrowed a copy of the book from my local public library.