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Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void Hardcover – Illustrated, August 2, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 925 ratings

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Jesse Eisenberg's latest fiction
"When You Finish Saving the World" Listen free with trial
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2010: With her wry humor and inextinguishable curiosity, Mary Roach has crafted her own quirky niche in the somewhat staid world of science writing, showing no fear (or shame) in the face of cadavers, ectoplasm, or sex. In Packing for Mars, Roach tackles the strange science of space travel, and the psychology, technology, and politics that go into sending a crew into orbit. Roach is unfailingly inquisitive (Why is it impolite for astronauts to float upside down during conversations? Just how smelly does a spacecraft get after a two week mission?), and she eagerly seeks out the stories that don't make it onto NASA's website--from SPCA-certified space suits for chimps, to the trial-and-error approach to crafting menus during the space program's early years (when the chefs are former livestock veterinarians, taste isn't high on the priority list). Packing for Mars is a book for grownups who still secretly dream of being astronauts, and Roach lives it up on their behalf--weightless in a C-9 aircraft, she just can't resist the opportunity to go "Supermanning" around the cabin. Her zeal for discovery, combined with her love of the absurd, amazing, and stranger-than-fiction, make Packing for Mars an uproarious trip into the world of space travel. --Lynette Mong


From Publishers Weekly

Roach (Stiff) once again proves herself the ideal guide to a parallel universe. Despite all the high-tech science that has resulted in space shuttles and moonwalks, the most crippling hurdles of cosmic travel are our most primordial human qualities: eating, going to the bathroom, having sex and bathing, and not dying in reentry. Readers learn that throwing up in a space helmet could be life-threatening, that Japanese astronaut candidates must fold a thousand origami paper cranes to test perseverance and attention to detail, and that cadavers are gaining popularity over crash dummies when studying landings. Roach's humor and determined curiosity keep the journey lively, and her profiles of former astronauts are especially telling. However, larger questions about the "worth" or potential benefits of space travel remain ostensibly unasked, effectively rendering these wild and well-researched facts to the status of trivia. Previously, Roach engaged in topics everyone could relate to. Unlike having sex or being dead, though, space travel pertains only to a few, leaving the rest of us unsure what it all amounts to. Still, the chance to float in zero gravity, even if only vicariously, can be surprising in what it reveals about us.
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Product details

  • Lexile measure : 1070L
  • Item Weight : 1.07 pounds
  • Hardcover : 336 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0393068471
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0393068474
  • Dimensions : 5.9 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company; Illustrated edition (August 2, 2010)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 925 ratings

Jesse Eisenberg's latest fiction
"When You Finish Saving the World" Listen free with trial

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
925 global ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on June 25, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on March 27, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on April 6, 2016
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Reviewed in the United States on January 25, 2014
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Top reviews from other countries

GeordieReader
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting in parts but rather disappointing over all
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 28, 2015
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Luke Powell
5.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasant Journey through the Time of Space.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 18, 2017
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Nita
2.0 out of 5 stars Mostly uninteresting
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 23, 2019
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TONY MEREDITH
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Fun.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 24, 2018
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Occibx
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was expecting
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 19, 2017
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