Is There Life in Outer Space?

Clavis. (Marvelous but True). Mar. 2021. 32p. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781605376295.
Gr 2-4–Astrobiologist Carl Sagan (1934–1996) designed messages to be sent on satellites traveling beyond the solar system. This third installment in the “Marvelous but True” series describes how Sagan and others first designed plaques that were attached to the Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 satellites. Sagan and his team later worked on creating golden records, which would carry sounds and images into space. In 1977, the Voyager satellites were launched, with Sagan’s golden record attached. These discs also included instructions for playing. Voyagers 1 and 2 left our solar system in 2012 and 2018, respectively. Scientists expect the satellites to continue on their journey into space indefinitely. Translated by the publisher, this text reads smoothly, but there is one surprising mistranslation: The satellites are called “hand-made objects.” Adults who have some background knowledge of this topic may find some statements questionable. It is not true, for example, that we “know that there’s no life on the moon.” Scientists haven’t discovered evidence of life yet, but they don’t rule out the possibility. Sneyers’s illustrations feature cartoons, sketches, and full-color images. There is a wordless spread with a satellite leaving its rockets behind; another spread depicts imagined alien receivers. These images do not match the exciting energy of the subject.
VERDICT An optional purchase. Readers have been better served by titles such as Stephanie Roth Sisson’s Star Stuff and Kathleen Krull’s Starstruck.

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