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A Rover’s Story

Jasmine Warga
2022

Adventure

Courage

Friendship

Resilience

Teamwork

STE(A)M

“I am not built for startling. I have been built for observation.” 

Dive into the inner thoughts of Resilience (Res for short), a NASA rover destined for the surface of Mars. He awakens to the clarity of his purpose: he was built for exploring a faraway planet, and he was not built for human emotions. But as Res continues through his mission preparation, he observes humans (he calls them “hazmats” after their protective clothing) and slowly incorporates their humanity into his code.  

“We are not-living things looking for signs of life.” 

The NASA scientists create Resilience to search for signs of past or present life on Mars. On this quest, Res is ably assisted by an excitable drone named Fly and a careful satellite named Guardian. Together, the three form a unit that resembles a family, even though they are certainly not programmed for familial bonds. Will they find water, salt, or – even better – a fossil that will change the way we understand our closest planetary neighbor? And, will any discovery be enough to earn Res a return trip back to earth?  

“Want is not in our programming.” 

Resilience’s yearnings will resonate with your students and families. He wants to please his human creators, getting a smile from the serious Rania and a “Nice job, buddy” from the friendly Xander. He wants to make scientific discoveries that will make his mission worthwhile. He wants to be loyal to his non-human companions in the lab and on Mars. Most of all, he wants to come home.  

“I’m really proud of Mom. I can’t believe she helped build something as cool as you. I haven’t told her that yet, but it feels good to write it down here.”  

Time moves differently in space exploration. This story spans over two decades, with many years of Res rambling across the Martian surface, and even more years of Res out of contact with Earth. To make this timeline concrete for readers, Jasmine Warga includes a series of letters to Res from Rania’s daughter Sophie. She writes the first one as an assignment for sixth grade, and the last one as an adult, reflecting on Res’s world-changing contributions. These letters ground the story of a space traveler on a strange planet with the everyday concerns of people here on earth – family, friendship, loss, and joy.  

 “Home. Home is a hazmat word that I have heard before. It is a word that I am not sure I understand the full meaning of. But that is okay. I was built to learn.” 

A Rover’s Story is both epic and intimate in scale, a difficult balance that Warga executes perfectly. The book will give your classrooms and families an opportunity to learn STEM-related topics like jet propulsion and soil composition. But, more than that, it will open discussions of  fundamental questions like what constitutes a family, what makes us human, and where home is.