One could argue that the technological triumphs embodied in our robotic explorations of Mars far exceed those that put men on the moon. Missing, however, is the drama of putting human life at risk, and the ease with which our imagination can put us in the shoes of the explorer. That is not to say that there is not a human element. In this engaging article by Burkhard Bilger, some of the humans behind these brilliantly imaginative machines and the systems that put them on another planet are described. This is adventure of a high order, even though it is adventure by remote control and with a time delay. Two of the principals of the Curiosity mission, John Grotzinger (chief scientist) and Adam Steltzner (leader of the entry, descent and landing team) are profiled in depth, but Bilger also describes the precursors, Spirit and Opportunity, whose photos and scientific data have also captured the public imagination. Recommend this article to your students. I bet that they will enjoy it as much as I did.
The New Yorker, April 22, 2013, p. 64