Quotable: Mary Roach on NASA Impact to Technology

Packing For Mars

“If it’s cordless, fireproof, lightweight and strong, miniaturized, or automated, chances are good NASA has had a hand in the technology. We are talking trash compactors, bulletproof vests, high-speed wireless data transfer, implantable heart monitors, cordless power tools, artificial limbs, dustbusters, sports bras, solar panels, invisible braces, computerized insulin pumps, fire-fighters’ masks. Every now and then, earthbound applications head off in an unexpected direction: Digital lunar image analyzers allow Estée Lauder to quantify “subtleties otherwise undetectable” in the skin of women using their products, providing a basis for ludicrous wrinkle-erasing claims. Miniature electronic Apollo heat pumps spawned the Robotic Sow. “At feeding time a heat lamp simulating a sow’s body warmth is automatically turned on, and the machine emits rhythmic grunts like a mother pig summoning her piglets. As piglets scamper to their mechanical mother, a panel across the front opens to expose the row of nipples,” wrote an unnamed NASAfacts scribe, surely eliciting grunts from superiors in the NASA Public Affairs Office.”

Roach, Mary . Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void (p. 334). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.


Mary Roach offers this concise description of how the investment in NASA and the space sciences benefits everyone. And this is just a footnote in her brilliant book, “Packing For Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void”. Packing For Mars answers the questions about space travel that many of us wouldn’t even know where to begin looking for answers to, and even if we did we just may not have the nerve to ask some of these! Packing For Mars is highly recommended for anyone curious about what it took to get humans in space, what demands were placed on us once we got there, and what we can continue to expect in the future. This book offers history, documentary, and a generous helping of humor. You won’t be able to put it down.

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

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