Friday, June 29, 2012

Packing for Mars

My latest book was Packing for Mars by Mary Roach.  I'd heard good things about the author from both Epbot and from a Nerdist podcast where they interviewed Jeri Ryan.  The premise sounded interesting so I picked it up from my library.  Mary Roach writes books on scientific topics, but presents them in a way that is not only easy to understand by those outside the field she's studying, but also funny.   

Packing for Mars is a collection of information about the current NASA program.  It covers early NASA missions and some of the issues they faced along with how new technologies are tested before they're sent into space and information on the potential for our journey to Mars.  The book was published before NASA's budget was basically decimated, so some of the information doesn't stand anymore (like dates about when we might try to visit Mars), but the information in the book is still really interesting. 

I love getting my scientific information from someone so funny.  She shares some of the stories that she finds that don't generally see the light of publication, which not only shows the reality of what's happening, it makes her a more credible source.  I could definitely tell that she did a ton of research.  She also participated in a lot of the activities herself (when she could), such as a parabolic flight to feel weightlessness, and a visit to Devon Island to see how NASA prepares for missions on the moon or Mars.  The book is by no means comprehensive (that much information wouldn't fit in a single book), but it does give a good idea of what it takes to be an astronaut and how much planning goes into sending humans into space.  I highly recommend this book. 

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