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Packing for Mars, Mary Roach

I had a chance to do some reading while on vacation and happened across “Packing for Mars” by Mary Roach.  Roach has made a career out of writing about things that don’t get a lot of air play (e.g. cadaver decay) from a humorous as well as scientific viewpoint.  In Packing for Mars she tackles a bunch of the questions related to living and working in space, with an eye to what would be required to get to Mars and back.  She interviews a lot of ‘experts’ and astronauts from NASA and other space agencies, as well as researchers who often performed some of the early experiments in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.  She does all of this with a touch of humor that makes the less tasteful stuff a bit more palatable.  It’s an interesting read, and I would recommend it for anyone who remembers the early days of space flight.


Here are the chapters:


1.         He’s smart but his birds are sloppy – Japan picks an astronaut.

2.         Life in a box – The perilous psychology of isolation and confinement

3.         Star crazy – Can space blow your mind?

4.         You go first – The alarming prospect of life without gravity

5.         Unstowed – Escaping gravity on Board NASA’s C-9

6.         Throwing up and down – The astronaut’s secret misery

7.         The cadaver in space – NASA visits the crash test lab

8.         One furry step for mankind – The strange case of Ham and Enos

9.         Next gas 200,000 miles – Planning a moon expedition is tough, but not as tough as planning a simulated one

10.        Houston, we have a fungus – Space hygiene and the men who stopped bathing for science

11.        The horizontal stuff – What if you never got out of bed?

12.        The three-dolphin club – Mating without gravity

13.        Withering heights – Bailing out from space

14.        Separation anxiety – The continuing saga of zero-gravity elimination

15.        Discomfort foods – When veterinarians make dinner, and other tales of woe from aerospace test kitchens

16.        Eating your pants – Is Mars worth it?

Greg Ruppel