- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (April 4, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393339912
- ISBN-13: 978-0393339918
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 605 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void Paperback – April 4, 2011
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“A delightful, illuminating grab bag of space-flight curiosities.”
- Kirkus Reviews
“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 Weekly
“This 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.”
“An utterly fascinating account, made all the more entertaining by the author’s ever-amused tone.”
“An impish and adventurous writer with a gleefully inquisitive mind and stand-up comic’s timing.”
“The 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 York
“With 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.”
“Roach provides a highly readable, often hilarious, guide.”
- Christian Science Monitor
About the Author
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 New York Times Magazine, among others. She lives in Oakland, California.
Top customer reviews
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Space travel has always fascinated me and the idea of moving to Mars permanently, so I was especially excited about this book.
I love this book - but if she decided to write about mouse droppings, car parts, or the history of nails, I would grab those books too.
Roach certainly did her homework - she snags a ride on the “vomit comet” to experience zero-G first hand, and travels to remote outposts to see how astronauts might live on Mars. The book is carefully researched, and she frequently peppers the text with amusing footnotes and details she discovered along the way. It’s a good read if you’re not squeamish.
A note about the audio edition: Roach is a talented public speaker, so it's really unfortunate she doesn’t read her own book. The “narrator’s” harsh, school-marm voice unfortunately drains much of the humor and wit from Roach’s text. I also wish the audio book came packaged on an MP3 disk. I had to manually rip and copy onto one myself, because "stop to change the disk" doesn't work while you're driving.
The book is not about Mars. I kept wondering when we were going to get to Mars. A few chapters in it hit me, the title is just a metaphor for what needs to be done to get into space. And boy do we find out. The author spent hours pouring through old flight transcripts, interviewing astronauts and NASA personnel and even going for a ride into weightlessness on the Vomit Comet, a low orbital flight that provides a nearly weightless environment in which to train astronauts and conduct research. The result is a hilarious look at the training and research for space travel. She asks the questions that you want to know the answers to but won't find in any Science magazine or NASA publication.
Each chapter explores a different aspect of planning for space going back to the earliest mission through today on the International Space Station. Want to know how that space station toilet works and how they designed and tested it? Ummm, the training toilet has a camera in it. And bathroom breaks need to be scheduled because there's no gravity and therefore no urge! And what did they do for a toilet on the Apollo and earlier missions and how bad did that space capsule smell after two weeks? Is it possible to have sex in space? Which foods can be brought on board and why are crumbs bad?
It's not all bathroom jokes, there are also serious topics such as how astronauts are chosen for the program, a discussion of the psychological studies on long periods of isolation and the effects of weightlessness on the health of the astronauts. She also relates some strange but true stories and debunks a few well know myths.
Interesting, informative and laugh-out-loud funny this is a book I highly recommend.
Most recent customer reviews
continue to read more from this author. Keep up the great writing and interesting subjects.
“Packing for Mars” is a fun and enlightening look at the science of space travel.Read more