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Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of…

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void

by Mary Roach

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,0241853,308 (4.01)332
  1. 64
    The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe (Othemts, nessreader)
    nessreader: The shift in corporate mentality in NASA between the testosterone drenched fighter pilots of Wolfe's era and the team orientated and PR-paranoid present is instructive. The terrifying discipline required seems equal; in any case, interesting to compare.
  2. 31
    A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts by Andrew Chaikin (Othemts)
  3. 10
    The Martian by Andy Weir (sboyte)
    sboyte: One is fiction and one is nonfiction, but the subject matter is similar and I think both will appeal to anyone who enjoys science with a dash of humor.
  4. 10
    Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut by Mike Mullane (itbgc)

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Showing 1-5 of 183 (next | show all)
I still have lots of questions. And I'm tired of Roach's forced humor - I thought there was enough humor just from the situations and the people she interviewed. But there's some interesting nuggets information in this collection of anecdotes and mini-science lessons, so I don't regret the read.

Roach informs us that wild dogs eat the stomach of their prey first, and that the contents of that herbivore give them their vegetables. Also that methane is odorless. Also that the 'aliens' at Roswell were dummy astronauts re' experiments on bailing out at altitude.

I did listen to some of the audiobook, too, and the narrator did a great job. If you have a choice, go with the audio. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
Trust Mary Roach to make rocket science understandable, engaging, and hilarious. Chock-full of fascinating details, little known trivia, and laugh-out-loud anecdotes, this romp through the staid atmosphere of NASA is a delight. Whether you've read all of Roach's books or if this is your first experience, her charming style and lighthearted diction will draw you in with answers to all the unglamorous details of space travel. Exactly how do you poo in space? Is sexual congress possible in a weightless environment? Will you die if you vomit in your space suit? All these questions will be answered and much much more. ( )
  Juva | Mar 26, 2015 |
Interesting book! Could not get through chapter 10 (not showering doesn't gross me out, but for some reason the biological descriptions did! ( )
  jrsearcher | Feb 12, 2015 |
Full of interesting factoids, and written in a very readable, slighty snarky style that I enjoyed.

I was, however, hoping to come out of reading this with something more -- a greater feeling of inspiration or hope for the space program and a possible Mars mission. Instead, I felt that mostly I just had a collection of factoids. Interesting, but somehow leaving me feeling unsatisfied.

Also, I can't read about Laika the space dog without getting upset. So that probably affected my experience negatively too...
  devafagan | Jan 2, 2015 |
This book is a very good factual book, it's full of very interesting information. 4Q3P The cover art is awesome and I'd recommend this to middle and high school students. I chose to read this because I really liked the title. GabeF
  edspicer | Dec 30, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 183 (next | show all)
Packing for Mars Review
The book starts with explaining how Japan picks which astronauts are fit to go on missions. They test them by their ability to do origami quickly. It then lists, by chapters, several examples of the “behind the scenes” aspects of different space travel situations. There is no real plot to the book, just examples and situations to show the less-glamorous side to space living/travel.
I really liked this book, even though it is nonfiction. I usually read fiction books only because I feel like they are more interesting, but this book and Mary Roach changed my mind about that. Her funny, sarcastic, and lighthearted writing style made the book very enjoyable to read. There are some very serious and dangerous aspects to space living/travel, such as radiation, but Roach tends to stay away from these areas to keep the book more appealing and hilarious. A quote I found important was “the act of vomiting deserves your respect. It's an orchestral event of the gut.” This quote shows exactly the kind of humor Roach uses, and shows how she talks about the less glamorous side of being an astronaut.
I would definitely recommend this to someone who doesn't usually read nonfiction books, because this really changed my mind about them. I also recommend it to anyone who likes a good laugh when reading, because Mary Roach is definitely capable of making you laugh throughout the whole book, even in the more serious parts of the book. I think this is a good book for teens to read because you learn a lot of interesting things about space, being in space, and the equipment used in space. You also are kept engaged in the book with the ever-changing subjects, but not in a way that confuses you, so it is fairly easy to read.
From reading this book, I have learned to think about everything having another side to it. As
Gatewood 2

Roach explained the less-popular aspects of space programs, it made me think that everything has other sides or aspects to it. A concert is one example of this. If you go to a concert, all you see is the stage, the lights, the performer(s), and other special effects or props. What you don't see are all the people working tirelessly to make all the lights and other effects go off without a hitch, and making sure all the music and singing sounds good and the systems are working properly. So there is a lot “behind the scenes” work that makes everything seem the way it is, and Roach explains that very well in this book by giving details about the unknown side of preparing for space travel.
added by rgatewood1 | editMyself, Ryan Gatewood

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mary Roachprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Burr, SandraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cipriano, EllenDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Druskin, JuliaProduction managersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keenan, JamieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wiemer, FredCopyeditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Jay Mandel and Jill Bialosky, with cosmic gratitude
First words
To the rocket scientist, you are a problem.
If you stumbled onto Building 993 at Ellington Field airport, you would have to stop and wonder about the things inside. The sign on the front is as evocative and preposterous as the engraved brass one that says Ministry of Silly Walks in the Monty Python sketch of the same name. This sign says REDUCED GRAVITY OFFICE. I know what is in there, but even so, I have to stand for a moment and indulge my imagination, through which coffeepots are floating and secretaries drift here and there like paper airplanes. Or better still, an organization devoted to the taking of absolutely nothing seriously.
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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?
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393068471, Hardcover)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:19 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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.… (more)

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2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393068471, 0393339912

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