Combining innovation and efficiency is ideal in many organizational settings. Adaptive expertise represents a cognitive explanation of how individuals and teams can learn to achieve simultaneous innovation and efficiency. In 2004, scientists led twin rovers on Mars in the search for historical water. The science team experienced a remarkable increase in efficiency, adapting with flexibility to unexpected events and dynamic, dwindling resources. After discussing the conceptual differences between adaptive expertise and related team learning and innovation concepts, we examine longitudinal behavioral data on novelty, routine and adaptive expertise. Sequential time series ARIMA analyses reveal that novelty fluctuated randomly, but both routine and adaptive expertise significantly increased over time. In addition, novelty, routine expertise, and adaptive expertise did not significantly predict each other directly or at a lag, suggesting that these are indeed three distinct constructs. Implications for theory and research on efficiency and innovation are discussed. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.