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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

Written by Mary Roach

Narrated by Sandra Burr


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

Written by Mary Roach

Narrated by Sandra Burr

ratings:
3/5 (1,259 ratings)
Length:
10 hours
Released:
Aug 2, 2010
ISBN:
9781441876669
Format:
Audiobook

Editor's Note

Funny on the final frontier…

What happens when you can’t stop laughing in space? Roach will find out for you as she studies how all the human bodily functions (particularly the gross ones) continue to work in space flight. The answers are out of this world.

Description

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 spacewalk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout from space? 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.
Released:
Aug 2, 2010
ISBN:
9781441876669
Format:
Audiobook

About the author



Reviews

What people think about Packing for Mars

3.2
1259 ratings / 176 Reviews
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Critic reviews

  • What happens when you can't stop laughing in space? Roach will find out for you as she studies how all the human bodily functions (particularly the gross ones) continue to work in space flight. The answers are out of this world.

    Scribd Editors
  • You've given your two-week notice, your friends and family are on board, and you are ready to move to Mars. What should you bring with you? This witty, fascinating look at the more mundane things astronauts encounter in outer space will help you prepare on your journey to a new planet.

    Scribd Editors

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    In Mary Roach’s usual style, she takes a humourous look at NASA and space travel in this one, looking at some of the things that most of us just don’t think about when it comes to travelling in zero-gravity. She looks at using the “toilet”, eating, sex, throwing up, hygiene, and more. This did, of course, include some history of space travel, as well. I hadn’t even realized when I started reading it a few days ago that the 50th anniversary of the walk on the moon was yesterday, while I was in the middle reading this – good timing for me! In the first chapter, it was interesting to read about how they made the flag “fly” (with no gravity!) on the moon, and also how to even pack it to bring with them, with the limited space available. There was one real transcript of three astronauts having a discussion when one of them noticed a “turd” flying in the air – omg, I couldn’t stop laughing and crying reading that transcript! Kept me from continuing to read for at least 5 minutes, if not more!! This, and “Stiff” are my favourites of the ones I’ve read by her so far.
  • (4/5)
    I deeply envy those not claustrophobic or clumsy or tall...they can aspire to astronautcy, where I for reasons here presented, cannot. Fatness, it seems, was once mooted by a NASA consultant, as a desideratum...20 kilos of fat = 184,000 calories! Why send food up? Fat folks can do a little slimming and science at the same time!Leaving aside the Donner-Party-in-Space horrors of the clueless and thin, Mary Roach's delight of a book is packed with interesting and surprising research, her own and others's. I can't imagine *how* anyone came up with zero-gravity toilet research subjects. Filming you at this well, ummm, intimate moment of activity? Discovering thereby that uhhhh curls form in zero G? *shudder*And Roach, as readers of previous books (Bonk, Spook) know, is irreverent to the point of being a female frat boy about every-damn-thing, and completely unafraid to deploy wit and sarcasm at the drop of a...cheese curl. She's funny, she's curious, she's smart, and damn it all, she's married.So she marshals a raft of facts in her quest to know, and impart to us, necessary background information and bizarre little side-trails of information about the quest of the US and (now) Russian governments to put and keep humans in space. Each chapter tackles different specialties in the space race: food, water, safe arrival and departure, etc. etc. Her completely unserious side is always on display, and makes what would otherwise be a government briefing document (anyone who has ever read a government briefing document will attest that there is no reading matter more effective in inducing short-term coma) into a sparkling, sprightly tour of a quixotic, hugely expensive boondoggle.At the end of this particular garden path that Mary's leading us down is a manned mission to Mars. She asks baldly, "Is Mars worth it?" All the money...half a trillion bucks!...all the risk, all the inevitable bureaucratic wrangling.Benjamin Franklin said it best: Asked what use the first manned balloon flights were, Franklin replied, "What use is a new-born baby?"Exactly.
  • (5/5)
    The book has very little about Mars. It covers aspects of the Space program that we don't hear about. I have a new respect for those people who have been a part of the program, not only astronauts, but people who volunteer to undergo trials to get the data needed to develop what is needed for those astronauts. Parts of the book are pretty unsavory. The presentation of the information has quite a lot of humor as well. The author did a lot of hands on research such as taking a trip up for a parabolic flight sequence to try out Zero G. She talked to some very interesting folks and found transcriptions of some rather fun astronaut dialog. I suppose there is an emphasis on some pretty gross stuff, but my opinion is that this book is first rate. It is well researched, interesting, enlightening, and for me it was a new perspective on the topic. This is not just a scientific endeavor. This is a human endeavor. It does make me wonder if humans really should push through what it would take to go to Mars. If they had to do it under the conditions of the first astronauts, it would be insanity. It will not be easy to do and it will not be easy on those who do it. This is an extreme sport, I guess I'd say.
  • (4/5)
    From my Cannonball Read V review...

    This is my second Mary Roach book of this Cannonball read, and the fact that it popped into my queue right now is perfect, because Gravity is out and I cannot wait to see it.

    I was excited to read this because when I was a kid I wanted to be an astronaut. Not enough to get into the physics and astronomy track in college, or enlist in the air force, or really do anything to actively pursue that career path, but enough that to this day I still think that if I win the lottery I plan to squirrel away a chunk of the change to pay my way into space (after donating the vast majority of it to charity, of course.)

    The premise is not just exploring space travel, but specifically extended space travel. Ms. Roach does a great job of weaving in the history of space travel through specific areas from eating space food to … eliminating said food. There are so many wonderful facts, great footnotes and just fun stories. She gets to ride the vomit comet (i.e. the parabolic flight), interview groundbreaking (atmosphere-busting?) astronauts, scientists and others.

    The book is especially interesting because it doesn’t sugar-coat anything about space travel. I didn’t realize, for example, that some of the early space flights involved two dudes hanging out in a capsule for two weeks, no ability to wash or really take care of any personal hygiene needs. Or how much fecal matter can end up floating around in the space shuttle, and how much research and development had to go into creating a toilet, or how much effort goes into creating food that allows for a little more time between … evacuations.

    Along the way of telling the story of all the challenges that are increased on a long space trip, Ms. Roach drops great little bits of knowledge. For example, she explains how the flag on the moon looked like it was blowing in the wind even though there isn’t wind on the moon, and talks about why people get motion sickness. There are so many awesome nuggets that it’s worth it for anyone who is into trivia.

    You know the drill. It’s Mary Roach. It’s good. You’ll probably like it. Add it to the list.
  • (3/5)
    This book isn't at all what I thought it would be based on the review that I read of it. I had thought the author had gone through a space camp or something similar and would be providing a first person experience. Instead, she has done extensive research on the space program and has distilled what she learned into a fairly easy to read format.
  • (4/5)
    3.5/5 stars.

    I listened to this one on audio. It was an interesting read, and Mary Roach really does explore a lot on what really needs to happen to send people to space. The narrator was quite good and I enjoyed listening to her. Each chapter explored a new aspect to the logistics of sending humans to space, and ties in previous chapters as you go. From food, to going to the bathroom, to sweating, you get to explore the science and research behind this. Fun, interesting read.