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The Mars Challenge: The Past, Present, and Future of Human Spaceflight

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  68 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Travel to deep space and back again with The Mars Challenge, a nonfiction graphic novel for teens about the science and logistics of a manned mission to Mars.

Nadia is a teen with a dream: to be the first woman on Mars. But to get there, she's got to learn all she can about the science of spaceflight. It's a good thing her friend Eleanor is an Attitude Determination and Con
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published June 16th 2020 by First Second
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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 ·  68 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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Start your review of The Mars Challenge: The Past, Present, and Future of Human Spaceflight
Absolutely chocked full of information on the challenges of space flight, the limitations of the human body, the geology and chemistry of Mars, as so so much more...

The book is targeted at teen audience, and yet it is pretty dense in form, even in the graphic format. It is all conveyed through expository dialogue between an intrepid teen (wants to be the first woman on Mars!) and a scientist who works for NASA as they hike around a desert landscape on Earth.

Traditional panel format of comics wi
Rod Brown
Sep 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A highly informative and entertaining look at how hard it is going to be to put humans on Mars and return them safely to Earth. It takes the form a dialogue between an aspiring astronaut and a knowledgable space advocate -- both women of color -- as they hike through some rough terrain on Earth that morphs as their discussion wanders from the International Space Station to Mars itself.

The mentor is very realistic about the challenges to be surmounted and how a mission to Mars will build upon wha
Elizabeth A
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Book blurb: Travel to deep space and back again with The Mars Challenge, a nonfiction graphic novel for teens about the science and logistics of a manned mission to Mars.

I would have loved this as a teen, and I loved it as an adult. Getting humans to Mars is hard - especially if you are planning a round trip - and it's one of the things that annoys me about most stories about humans on the planet - there is so much to be worked out, and most stories gloss over the challenges.

I loved that the hi
Jul 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Mars is hard.

In fact, just the prospect of humans missions to Mars is so hard that even talking about why Mars is hard can be hard because, well, it’s hard.

Alison Wilgus and Wyeth Yates’ The Mars Challenge is a shockingly good book on this topic.

To say The Mars Challenge gets it right is an understatement.

The prospect of sending humans to Mars is daunting, and the reasons for that get very technical very quickly. Try to explain it, and you start talking about things like the rocket equation and
Feb 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
Detailed but very readable discussing about what is needed to get humans on Mars.

Full of everything we know so far on what it would take to get humans to Mars, both what we have and what we still need to figure out, explained in an entertaining and accessible way.

It doesn't pull punches on the issues of what's holding us back, but still manages to be both realistic and optimistic.
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was the most clear, concise, and colorful guide on space exploration I have yet to read. The author spent a huge amount of time researching and it definitely shows.

I had to read this in chunks even though it's a fairly short read just because of how dense the information is (for someone who's not a space expert). The book consists of two people, a teen and scientist, walking around a Mars-like landscape discussing what exactly it would take to get us to Mars and back, but the landscape eve
Emily Lakdawalla
Thorough and well-researched, The Mars Challenge describes the state of the art of work toward sending human astronauts to Mars through a dialogue between a woman who desperately wants to be among the first astronauts, and another woman who explains the technology we'll need and problems we haven't solved yet. There are a lot of challenges, and it's daunting. In the end, the wannabe astronaut almost loses hope, but delivers a stirring speech: "When we talked about building space stations back in ...more
Stephanie Bange
Oct 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is the kind of graphic novel I would have absorbed while in high school...

Nadia, a teen who aspires to be an astronaut in the future, and Ellie, her friend who is an Attitude Determination and Control Officer on the International Space Station, meet for a hike in the desert an mountains to discuss what is necessary to happen for an astronaut to travel to the planet Mars.

Wilgus unpacks this topic step by step, beginning with explaining what and how humans have learned about the Red Planet, t
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The driving question in this well-drawn graphic novel is “What are all the conflicts that need to be solved before a space flight can be made to our next door neighbor, Mars?” The story is told in a series of conversations between Nadia, a teen who wants to be the first woman to Mars, and her mentor, Eleanor, an Attitude Determination and Control Officer (basically, a rocket scientist!). Eleanor guides Nadia through a hypothetical journey to the red planet. From the major difficulties of gravity ...more
Apr 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Join ambitious high schooler Nadia and her mentor, ISS Pilot Eleanor, as they discuss the main problems that are face us today in getting a manned mission to Mars. The topic is presented as a conversation between the two with various diagrams and “trips” to the International Space Station, Mars, and others as Eleanor describes the hurdles scientists and engineers have to overcome. Some of the issues include the Rocket Equation, the formula for calculating how much fuel you will need to get the m ...more
Becky B
Jun 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Through the conversations of an eager teen who wants to go to Mars and an adult scientist, readers learn all the hurdles that need to be passed before humans are ready for a manned mission to Mars, from overcoming the headaches gravity poses to figuring out how to keep humans alive once they get there and everything in between.

This is like a crash course in space flight engineering, but in graphic novel form and written in a way teens can easily grasp (and even motivated tweens). The science is
This title gives a very detailed scientific exploration of the challenges facing any potential manned mission to Mars, from launching astronauts into space and landing on Mars to bringing them back home.

The central focus of the story is a dialogue that takes place between a mission control officer, Ellie, and a teenage girl, Nadia, who hopes to someday be an astronaut on a Mars mission. The characters build a decent rapport, mixing in humor and banter among what can often be tough to understand
Mar 21, 2020 rated it liked it
I was given an advanced copy from the publisher via Netgalley for an honest review.

First, this novel is said it is for Young Adults, I feel like it fits more in the advanced Young Readers section, regardless, it still had a great deal of information and understandable. It is just a little bit cheesy in some ways, which is why I feel it is pitched more for young readers.

This non-fiction graphic novels takes you through a conversation between a young girl and her mentor as they learn what it may t
Allie Kleber
This book is absolutely packed with detailed information which manages to be both technical and digestible. I found it extremely engaging and informative.

The framing is curious, and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it. The challenges we face in the endeavor of sending human beings to Mars are explained in the form of a conversation between an aspiring astronaut and an expert (engineer, I think?). Concepts are illustrated, but a good deal of the art shows ... two people talking while they w
Krystl Louwagie
Aug 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book took a while to feel like I wasn't reading a really long informational pamphlet with cartoon characters to try to make it feel more relatable. I'm still not really sold on the vehicle of the people/characters/conversation used to relate the messages, but the messages were still interesting. Learning some of this history was absolutely fascinating--and the pictures did occasionally help to understand things. When I was reading about the "space wars" and how our progress was so fast duri ...more
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Framed as a conversation between an enthusiastic teenager and an experienced astronaut, this book does an able job of exploring the many obstacles that stand between us and Mars. To do this at the reading and interest level of a high school student while still being incredibly informative is no small achievement. There's a lot of ground to cover, and Wilgus is able to thoroughly explain each subject (fuel, landing, etc) without getting overly technical. And although Wilgus makes it very clear th ...more
Christine Moskalik
Oct 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was VERY good! I have never been a fan of graphic novels so was a little turned off by that but WOW! I loooved reading this book and I couldn’t put it down! This story is a non-fiction account of a mentoring relationship whereby the mentor discusses with her mentee the many challenges of getting humans to Mars & back safely! The main characters are female and non-white which should help inspire the next generation of diverse space enthusiasts! I will certainly be reading this book agai ...more
Jul 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is a seemingly simple book that deals with some very big and complicated ideas. I found it fun and informative. It's well written and impeccably edited, and the illustrations provide a sort of notional trampoline--whenever you lose the thread of the sometimes technical discussion, you can drop off and then bounce back in on the strength of the pictures. Does that make any sense? I'm not sure, but I feel like a budding Mars expert now on the strength of a little book that never takes itself ...more
S Tondra
Mar 20, 2020 rated it liked it
The Mars Challenge is a graphic novel with two characters conversing on how to get people to Mars. It is very science heavy and would be a good read of HS and up as some of the topics are maybe a bit above an average middle school student, however, I wouldn't discourage middle grade student to pick it up. The graphic were great and the info is fabulous if you want to learn more about space exploration and the challenges facing getting humans to Mars or any where in space.

I was provided with an
What exactly will it take for a manned crew to get to Mars, survive there and return home safely? This graphic novel takes us through every step of the way. Chock full of facts, I found it very engaging at times--and completely overwhelming at others. For readers interested in space travel, this is a good one.
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphics-comics
Well, I really did like this, but I think it would be more engaging if it weren't just . . . a conversation between two people? I did myself find it interesting enough, but I wonder about the non nerdy population. Nicely illustrated and well done though I'd like more "story" format sections.
Thanks to NetGalley for this review copy!
Jun 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
Dense but very informative and interesting
Joy Davenport
May 21, 2021 added it
Shelves: dnf
Made for kids / people who are REALLY interested in Mars. Really interested. Lots of detail, history, science poured into this book.
Better for secondary: depth of information
Jordan Morris
Feb 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Fun and fascinating! Get it for the tech-y kid in your life.
May 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021, graphic-novel
I'm a space nerd. Love it. I hope to see someone on Mars in my lifetime. This book made me feel like it is a pipe dream but I learned so much. Also Eleanor has the patience of a saint. Nadia was snarky with her the whole book! ...more
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Written in the style of a graphic novel, this book is full of information about the challenges related to the Mars mission. While the book does use a lot of technical terminology, it also takes the time to explain unfamiliar terms for younger audiences and provides a fascinating look into the future possibilities of a manned space flight to Mars.

Thank you to Netgalley for the advance e-copy of this book!
Jenn Marshall
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-second
This book is about the mission to Mars. I love that they don't dumb down the language. That being said this is a very wordy comic. Since I don't have a science background I did have to reread in a few places to completely understand what was being said. I could see a kid who was into space being really excited about this story. If you are not familiar with space stuff this might be a bit overwhelming.

The art is cute and I love the chapter titles being written in the background. It was a cute tou
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Alison Wilgus is a Brooklyn-based writer for comics and animation, and co-author of the bestselling graphic novel "The Last Airbender: Zuko's Story." ...more

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