Packing For Mars: The Curious Science Of Life In The Void

Paperback | April 5, 2011

byMary Roach

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Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer. Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year? have sex? smell flowers? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 17,000 miles per hour? To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations. As Mary Roach discovers, it’s possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Roach takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.

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From the Publisher

Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer. Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year? have sex? smell fl...

Mary Roach is the author of Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, and Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Her writing has appeared in Outside, Wired, National Geographic, and the...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 8.2 × 5.4 × 0.8 inPublished:April 5, 2011Publisher:WW NortonLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0393339912

ISBN - 13:9780393339918

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative! Mary Roach is brilliantly witty and investigative yet again in her book about life in space. You'll learn plenty about how astronauts live, and how humans might live on other planets. A great read!
Date published: 2014-11-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Packing for Mars Fun read! I learned a lot about many different things l wondered about. I have enjoyed two of Marys books so far. I recommend this one!
Date published: 2014-03-18
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Oopsie Very poor and out of target. You missed mars by a loooooong margin
Date published: 2014-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Let's go out and play! Completely fantastic. I don't know what else to say!
Date published: 2013-12-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Over the Moon! Gravity is my new best friend! If I’ve learned anything from “Packing for Mars”, it’s that I don’t ever want to travel in space. The work is monotonous, extremely dangerous and everyday tasks are tremendously difficult. You are in a cramped, smelly environment and the food leaves much to be desired. I wasn’t crazy about some of the subject matter – like an entire chapter devoted to chimps in space - but overall I have a much greater appreciation for the men and women who dare to go where no one has gone before.
Date published: 2013-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must read for anyone that digs science. This, along with Roving Mars on Blu-ray, are essentials in any self-respecting geeks library. Funny, insightful, and wonderfully readable!
Date published: 2013-01-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Life is Space This is a great read for anyone who is interested in space travel. Mary Roach explains even the most mind boggling concepts in layman's terms so everyone can understand. She is also hilarious and there is a joke every other page. Her writing style is comfortable, relaxed and informative. I learned so much about what astronauts have to go through, mostly the little thins that you would never think of. How does one go to the bathroom in space? Do astronauts get motion sickness? Can you shower in zero-gravity? All will be revealed in this intriguing summer read!
Date published: 2011-09-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Trip to Mars seems to be big project, but Mary Roach reminds us it's about a lot of little things. Packing for Mars is a really different look at the challenges that face the people working to get us back to the moon and then onto Mars. Repeating and then improving on the technical challenges that the Apollo program presented to NASA is a huge and complex project. But Mary Roach’s book reminds us that dealing with people in space is a messy, smelly, and at times disgusting problem that may be even more difficult to surmount. Ms Roach interviews many of the people behind all of the NASA space programs, from before the Mercury program, all the way up to the Shuttle program. Humans are the most difficult things to put in space, and here she tells us exactly how difficult it has been by talking with many of the astronauts that have been to space. Ms. Roach has a superb sense of humour, but never lets all the bodily function subjects get reduced to a Judd Apatow parody. The section of human smells in the tight space of a spacecraft or space station is hilarious, but at the same time very thoughtful as it clearing is going to be a major quality of life issue if we ever hope to spend a serious amount of time in space. I don’t remember Isaac Asimov writing about dandruff and skin snowstorms. I am already looking at Mary Roach’s other books since I’ve enjoyed this so much. If you have ever seriously considered the idea of visiting space, you need to read Packing for Mars as it will give you a completely different perspective of what making the trip will really be like, and the amazing people who are working around the world to still try and make it happen.
Date published: 2011-07-05

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Editorial Reviews

A delightful, illuminating grab bag of space-flight curiosities. — Kirkus Reviews[Roach's] style is at its most substantial—and most hilarious—in the zero-gravity realm that Packing for Mars explores.… As startling as it is funny. — Janet Maslin (The New York Times)A truly funny look at the less majestic aspects of the space program.... Roach’s writing is supremely accessible, but there’s never a moment when you aren’t aware of how much research she’s done into unexplored reaches of space travel. — Entertainment WeeklyThis is the kind of smart, smirky stuff that Roach does so well. — Geoff Nicholson (San Francisco Chronicle)Cool answers to questions about the void you didn’t even know you had. — PeopleAn utterly fascinating account, made all the more entertaining by the author’s ever-amused tone. — BookPageAn impish and adventurous writer with a gleefully inquisitive mind and stand-up comic’s timing. — BooklistThe author’s writing comes across as reportorial, but with a clear sense of humor; even the footnotes are used to both informational and comedic effect. — Time Out New YorkWith an unflinching eye, [Roach] launches readers into the thick of spaceflight’s grossest engineering challenges. — M. G. Lord (The New York Times Book Review)Roach’s strange enthusiasm for all things oddball . . . makes Mars a more than worthy destination. — TimeRoach provides a highly readable, often hilarious, guide. — Christian Science MonitorRoach deftly guides her readers. . . . They never completely lose sight of the accomplishments of space travel, even as they take delight in the absurdities that, in the end, make those successes all the more sublime. — Dallas Morning NewsA more realistic view of life in space than we have ever gotten from a NASA broadcast. — The Daily BeastIt’s all about those things NASA doesn’t delve into at press conferences. — BoingBoing