On July 4, 1997, The Mars Pathfinder lander, cocooned in an ungainly mass of airbags, was dropped from a parachute 40 feet above Mars. It slammed to the surface, kicked up the red Martian dust, bounced along like a giant beach ball and rolled to a stop. Pathfinder's three solar panel "petals" unfolded. Nestled inside was Sojourner, a one foot high, remote control vehicle that looked like something you might find under a Christmas tree. The world had a new hero.
The Mars mission was a genuine phenomenon. In a one month period, there were over a half billion hits on the mission's web site, breaking all records by hundreds of millions of hits. The most watched, most talked about space flight since men had landed on the Moon, it was also the most unlikely.
In The Adventures of Sojourner, Susi Trautmann Wunsch tells the entire story: from the small team of young scientists testing a simplified, common sense of technology, to the tension of blast off, to the wild bounce landing, to Sojourner's trials and tribulations along the rocky road of Mars, to ultimate and resounding success.
It is a page-turning narrative that, along the way, explains the intricacies of planetary exploration to a new generation of young readers. The diagrams and artist's conceptions make space technology instantly accessible. The photographs of little Sojourner tooling along the dusty, red emptiness of Mars make space travel seem not so distant at all.