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  • Published: New York : W.W. Norton, c2010.
  • Year Published: 2010
  • Edition: 1st ed.
  • Description: 334 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
  • Language: English
  • Format: Book

ISBN/Standard Number

  • 9780393068474
  • 0393068471

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Packing for Mars : the curious science of life in the void

by Roach, Mary.

There are currently 5 available

Where To Find It

Call number: 571.091 Ro

Available Copies: Downtown 2nd Floor, Malletts Adult, Pittsfield Adult, West Adult

Additional Details

He's smart but his birds are sloppy: Japan picks an astronaut -- Life in a box: the perilous psychology of isolation and confinement -- Star crazy: can space blow your mind? -- You go first: the alarming prospect of life without gravity -- Unstowed: escaping gravity on board NASA's C-9 -- Throwing up and down: the astronaut's secret misery -- The cadaver in the space capsule: NASA visits the crash test lab -- One furry step for mankind: the strange careers of Ham and Enos -- Next gas 200,000 miles: planning a moon expedition is tough, but not as tough as planning a simulated one -- Houston, we have a fungus: space hygiene and the men who stopped bathing for science -- The horizontal stuff: what if you never got out of bed? -- The three-dolphin club: mating without gravity -- Withering heights: bailing out from space -- Separation anxiety: the continuing saga of zero-gravity elimination -- Discomfort food: when veterinarians make dinner, and other tales of woe from aerospace test kitchens -- Eating your pants: is Mars worth it?

The author of Stiff and Bonk explores the irresistibly strange universe of space travel and life without gravity. 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 the author 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), she takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.

Community Reviews

Yeah, we know...

it costs way more to send people than "robots" to Mars. But, the way things are going, we will need to branch out. Soon.

Good, But Misleading Title

This is a fun and informative book, but if your interest is specifically on travel to Mars, this isn't the best book. What it really does is look at the history of a specific subset of the problems that have been faced in sending men (and animals) to space. The subset considered is basically anything you really don't want to talk about in polite company, from space sickness, to sex, to poop. It's very entertaining, and some of it needs to be considered if you are headed for Mars, but so do a lot of other, less gooey subjects, and many topics here, like the sad and embarrassing history of animals in space, don't really have anything at all to do with a Mars trip.

Packing for Mars

Turns out that astronauts have to deal with more challenges than just years and years of math and science: like how do you poop in zero-gravity?

Packing for Mars is a hilarious (and informative) look at space travel. Roach focuses each chapter on a particular space curiosity; in addition to the previously mentioned bathroom-problem, Roach tackles the issues of motion sickness (specifically how NASA deals with vomit in space suits), the possibility of zero-gravity sex, coexisting with others in tight spaces, lack of personal hygiene, and the difficulty of creating non-disgusting space food (dehydrated astronaut ice cream is delicious, but what about a dehydrated beef sandwich?), among others.

Roach asks NASA for all the answers we (and our inner fifth-grader) want to know and presents the facts in an entertaining, funny, easy to read, and educational book. Though the book reveals that astronaut-life is full of struggles and discomforts, it doesn’t make the subject any less interesting (it fact, I'd say it makes reading about space that much more exciting).

Awesome and Gross, but More Awesome

If you find space travel intriguing in anyway whatsoever, I highly recommend science writer Mary Roach’s latest book: Packing for Mars. In it, Roach asks every question imaginable about life in space. Fair warning: no topic is too gross for Mary Roach. She gets a kick out of telling which famous astronaut suffered from severe motion sickness and about the grim realities of going to the bathroom in space.

Alongside the gross-out moments are fantastic behind-the-scenes anecdotes from the numerous astronauts she interviewed for the book. One of the highlights is Roach’s own zero-gravity experience, in which she tags along as a journalist on a research flight and gets in trouble for using one of the experiments to push off so she can fly around the cabin. Take a look, Mary Roach is a top-notch writer who turns science into stories and finds the humor in every situation.

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