A former laser physicist turned writer documents her time as the crew writer and second-in-command on the first simulated Mars mission for the NASA-funded HI-SEAS project, weaving in meditations on her own life along with science.
... a fascinating book that resides in the space between science journalism and memoir ... Greene hints at enormous life ruptures after her HI-SEAS adventure, including the end of her marriage and the death of her older brother, but she’s reticent to deeply explore these changes. Instead, Greene asks questions, many questions, but rarely hazards an answer, leaving her voice overshadowed by interviews and writing excepts from Mark Kelly, Mae Jemison, Michael Collins, and other lucky souls who journeyed far away and lived to tell the tale ... In the book’s more science-oriented sections, though, Greene is a deft and engaging writer with a strong command of her subject and a unique way of viewing the mountains of small details, panoramic imagination, and near-sighted vision behind space flight ... is as much about being human here on Earth as it is about humans in space. Greene’s too brief book offers readers a chance for renewed awe at NASA’s tenacity and inventiveness, and a deeper understanding of the myriad ethical issues hovering behind space flight’s future.
Greene uses her experience in HI-SEAS as the basis for 12 essays exploring...questions about who gets to be an astronaut and why, how extreme circumstances alter our perceptions of time and space, the ethics of human research, the complicated relationship between public and private efforts to explore space, and the personal aftermath of such endeavors. She addresses them with wit, insight, compassion, and, ultimately, hope.