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Packing for Mars

The Curious Science of Life in the Void

Mary Roach (Author)

Overview | Editions | Formats

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 Details

  • Hardcover
  • August 2010
  • ISBN 978-0-393-06847-4
  • 5.9 × 8.6 in / 336 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, Singapore and Malaysia, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverPacking for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void


Endorsements & Reviews

“[Her] style is at its most substantial—and most hilarious—in the zero-gravity realm that Packing for Mars explores.… As startling as it is funny.” — Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“This is the kind of smart, smirky stuff that Roach does so well.” — Geoff Nicholson, San Francisco Chronicle

“Cool answers to questions about the void you didn’t even know you had.” — People

“An utterly fascinating account, made all the more entertaining by the author’s ever-amused tone.” — BookPage

“An impish and adventurous writer with a gleefully inquisitive mind and stand-up comic’s timing.” — Booklist

“The author’s writing comes across as reportorial, but with a clear sense of humor; even the footnotes are used to both informational and comedic effect.” — Time Out New York

“Hilarious.” — The New York Times Book Review

“A delightful, illuminating grab bag of space-flight curiosities.” — Kirkus Reviews

Also by Mary Roach All

  1. Book CoverBonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex


  2. Book CoverGrunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War


  3. Book CoverGulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal