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

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

"One of my first jobs in high school was working at the gift shop in the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville AL. I hated my uniform but I loved learning about space travel, especially the daily lives of the astronauts. In the early days of the Gemini project, you would be stuck in what amounts to the front seat of the car for several days. In the shuttle, you at least had some room to maneuver, but what did you do all day when you weren't doing science stuff? And what if we ever send people to Mars? That's a three year trip in a cramped cabin. Sure, lots of people think about the bravery and heroism of astronauts. But I wanted to know how bad they smelled after a week wearing the same space suit. And how did they go to the bathroom in space? Or wash their hair? And why was their food so gross?

Mary Roach shares my fascination apparently. In Packing for Mars, she goes on board with space monkeys, watches video of astronaut auditions, reads archives of isolation experiments and studies of what happens when you put three people in a small room for a week and don't let them change their clothes. She eats meals designed by veterinarians for minimal excretory output. And yes, she visits the center where astronauts train to use the space-commode.

As with Stiff and Bonk, her earlier books about death and sex, Roach answers questions most of us aren't quite brave enough to ask. The story is a combination of amazing, hilarious, and amazingly hilarious. The chapter on space bathroom technology alone is worth the price of admission."

Megan S.

See all my recommendations »

Author Mary Roach
Publisher W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date 2011-04-04
Section Astronomy / Geology / New Titles - Paperback / All Staff Suggestions / Non-Fiction Suggestions / Archived Staff Suggestions / Megan S.
Type New
Format Paperback
ISBN 9780393339918

“America’s funniest science writer” (Washington Post) explores the irresistibly strange universe of life without gravity in this New York Times bestseller.

The best-selling author of Stiff and Bonk explores the irresistibly strange universe of space travel and life without gravity. From the Space Shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule, Mary Roach takes us on the surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.  

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