Packing for Mars

Packing for Mars

The Curious Science of Life in the Void

Book - 2010
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Baker & Taylor
The author of Stiff and Bonk describes the weirdness of space exploration and answers questions about the long-term effects of zero gravity on the human body and what happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk.

Norton Pub
The best-selling 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 Mary Roach 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), Roach takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.

Book News
After tackling such topics as the fate of cadavers, the existence of ghosts, and sex in scientific research, Mary Roach settles her gaze on the not-so-glamorous lives of astronauts, their training, and the quirky experiments performed in the name of space science. Roach's research sends her into the archives and into zero-gee flight in order to find answers to such questions as what happens when an astronaut vomits in his/her helmet, and whether or not it is feasible, or even possible, to have sex in a gravity-free environment. As informative as it is funny, this book will appeal to space enthusiasts, trivia whizzes, and anyone out for a good laugh. Included in the work is a bibliography and timeline of worldwide space achievements, but no index. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

& Taylor

Describes the weirdness of space travel, answers questions about the long-term effects of living in zero gravity on the human body, and explains how space simulations on Earth can provide a preview to life in space.

Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton, c2010
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780393068474
Branch Call Number: 629.41 R53p
Characteristics: 334 p. : ill. ; 22 cm


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ArapahoeAlyson Apr 04, 2017

Mary Roach could write about anything and make it engaging and informative. I have very little interest in the space program yet I loved this book!

Radharc Apr 25, 2015

Yet another engrossing and informative read from Mary Roach. This time space (specifically, the tests one must endure before going "out there") is the focus. Pure fun!

quagga Sep 24, 2014

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

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

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.

Quimeras Sep 04, 2012

“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

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!

BPLNextBestAdults Jan 05, 2012

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

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.

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Mar 06, 2011

Aualtima thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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LudditeLord 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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