Packing for Mars

The Curious Science of Life in the Void

Roach, Mary

Book - 2010
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Packing for Mars
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.

Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton, c2010
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780393068474
Branch Call Number: 571.0919 R6282p 2010
Characteristics: 334 p. :,ill. ;,22 cm


From Library Staff

What variety of deli sandwich was smuggled aboard the Gemini III capsule, resulting in one senator's accusation in Congress that the wayward astronaut had made a mockery of the entire space program?

List - Michele's list by: multcolib_tamaf Jul 02, 2014

Mary Roach writes armchair science like no one else. She's smart, she's funny, and she'll try anything once. She has the sense of humor of a 12-year-old boy, so if you have a low gross-out factor you are forewarned. And Shelly, she was born in our year. I loved this book best of all but take a lo... Read More »

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Sep 24, 2014
  • quagga rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Quirky, fascinating and funny: I wish everyone else would write about science that way that Mary Roach does!

Nov 17, 2012
  • Christopher A Procter rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This is the space stuff that isn't written down for science (or, if it is, the stuff that doesn't get repackaged for the public). It's about all the tests that you have to do beforehand, and about exactly why taking a corned beef sandwich in to space is a bad idea.
Written in an engaging way, at least half will be new to the most avid space enthusiast. A really fun read!

Sep 18, 2012
  • tocch101 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A good read that was fun, discusting, and entertaining. The questions remain relevent, but due to the high rate of space exploration, it seems, at time to be out of date.

Sep 04, 2012
  • Quimeras rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

“Packing for Mars” was informative and funny. It exposed the not-so-glamorous side of space travel and it definitely gave me a new appreciation for gravity!

Aug 21, 2012

Even if you don't think you'd be interested in this topic, you will find it facinating reading. And a very humorous book to boot!

We currently take space station travel and life on a space station as everyday unremarkable. We give little thought the the idea that at one time scientists were not even sure that the human body woukd operate in zero gravity. Ms. Roach begins her story with early experiments to explore such fears and continues to explore the challenges for longer and more challenging questions of travel to Mars: how will we feed the crew given the weight of needed food? How will (and have) they deal with human wastes? What are the psychological problems with a small crew in confined spaces for long periods of travel?

Jul 02, 2012
  • Ana55 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This was informational, educational, and just plain FUN TO READ! I enjoyed being a shameless voyeur of all that goes into space flight and the preparation for it, and the aftermath. It wasn't full of science-y language nor hard to understand terms and equations, it was a lot of what I enjoy in this kind of book. I was loaned this book by a friend and would recommend it to anyone who is as interested in "all things space" as I am. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this book!

Jan 05, 2012
  • BPLNextBestAdults rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

As you read this, the Curiosity rover is travelling towards Mars, and is expected to arrive next August. If there were humans aboard, things would be even more complex. Our bodies are not designed for weightlessness, or extra gravitational forces. We need to bring our air along with us. We may not get along with one another if we’re confined in close quarters for too long. Using extensive interviews with astronauts, cosmonauts, scientists and NASA officials, science writer Mary Roach has a written a gossipy history of space flight, while describing the anticipated problems of future space flight.
San Francisco's 'One City One Book'

Nov 29, 2011
  • jasonruhl rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Mary Roach's brilliant sense of humor and wit make this an engaging, delightful, and memorable read. Also by her are Spook, Bonk, and Stiff whcih I recommend as well; though Packing For Mars deals with lighter subject matter than her other three books.

Aug 18, 2011
  • GVPLfan rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

A delightfully entertaining, well written book on some of the less glamorous aspects of space flight.

Mar 06, 2011
  • Aualtima rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A very entertaining read about the space program.

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Mar 06, 2011
  • Aualtima rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Aualtima thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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Nov 15, 2011

quotes Mary Roach as saying "Space doesn't just encompass the sublime and the ridiculous. It erases the line between."


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