1975 mass market paperback edition of Luděk Pešek’s science fiction novel, originally published in 1970 as Die Erde ist nah: Die Marsexpedition, winner of the German Children’s Book Prize 1971. Translated by Anthea Bell.
From the back cover:
Excitement rose when a shining bright violet ball appeared on the crest of a dust dune, slowly floating towards us over the ridges of the land. Fascinating, we watched its zigzag course. It was gathering speed as it leaped over the hollows. Involuntarily, we flinched back from the windows as the ball of light made straight for us, at tremendous speed. Ablinding light filled the cabin. It felt as though the fiery ball had touched the toughened glass of the porthole, I thought I heard the crackling of electric explosions. Then the ball disappeared, and we heard pattering sounds on the rood of the vehicle. I don’t know—none of us knew—how many seconds we waited in suspense. Then the flaming light leaped up on one of the Lizards. The little blue lights went out at once, the ball shone more brightly than ever, and vanished suddenly as it had come.
“The artist is not credited, the mission patch on the space-suited figure on the cover [has] Charles Lilly on it” — ISFDB