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


Rating: 4 Stars ★★★★☆

To the rocket scientist, you are a problem. You are the most irritating piece of machinery he or she will ever have to deal with.


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.


I absolutely adore Mary Roach’s writing. She has a knack for writing about the interesting, little-talked about aspects of science in a great, humorous manner.

And this book is full of interesting anecdotes and scientific facts. And it is about space. Space!

There is no place as inhabitable as the outside of our atmosphere. And yet humans did not let that stop them. Packing for Mars looks at all that goes into making going to and then actually surviving in space possible. From how to survive the force that goes with practically blowing up a bomb underneath you and riding it into space to how to deal with motion sickness.

And then there’s the actual living in space part: how does going to the toilet there work? She even asks about sex in space.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in science. It’s a great read.


What a fun, enlightening read about what it takes to get to space and survive there.


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