Once Upon a Time I Lived on Mars: Space, Exploration, and Life on Earth

St. Martin’s. Jul. 2020. 240p. ISBN 9781250159472. $27.99. SCI
Imagine a desolate red landscape, spending months in a confined habitat with a small crew. Venturing outside that habitat requires a spacesuit. This was the day-to-day experience for essayist and former laser physicist Greene, as she was one of the first crew to study and be studied in a Mars analog mission on the slopes of Mauna Loa in Hawai’i. The NASA-funded HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) habitat was an eight-month project, completed in 2013, allowing would-be astronauts to test the possibilities of life on Mars. Greene effectively recounts the range of situations she faced, including adjusting to living with limited electricity and water, and exercising with a limited amount of carbon dioxide. She combines these scientific details, such as the history of the first spacecraft and space suit, with personal anecdotes about her life, including how having a brother who lived with disability led her to become interested in science. Greene is a talented writer, and her words shine throughout, whether discussing science or its influence on her.
VERDICT This engaging account will interest sf lovers, scientists, and dreamers who see the red planet in the night sky and wonder, what if.

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