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#1 2014-02-17 17:41:45

Tom Kalbfus
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Registered: 2006-08-16
Posts: 4,401

Has anyone read "The Martian" by Andy Weir

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18007564-the-martian
This is a kind of "Robinson Crusoe" on Mars, and unlike the movie of that same name, this one seems plausible.
An astronaut is left for dead, as the rest of the crew aborts the mission because of a Martian dust storm.

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#2 2014-03-22 17:10:55

RobS
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From: South Bend, IN
Registered: 2002-01-15
Posts: 1,701
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Re: Has anyone read "The Martian" by Andy Weir

I just read it yesterday and the day before. It's a pretty good read; it's about 350-375 pages. It assumes a nuclear powered Vasmir mother ship that goes back and forth every  4 1/2 years; it goes to Mars, stays a month, then returns to earth, is refurbished, and heads our again. There's a Mars Descent Vehicle to bring the crew down. There's a 12-tonne Mars Ascent vehicle that lands ahead of time and converts hydrogen into fuel (I think it uses hydrazine, not methane; the conversion ratio is 14:1 and not 18:1). Each flight has 6 crew and also requires something like 14 small cargo landers. The crew has to assemble their hab from "canvas" pieces; they also have two rovers. Everything uses solar power, except the MAV has an RTG for emergency power (100 watts only). Each "Ares" project goes to a different landing zone; Ares 3 went to Acidalia Planitia (where the trouble happened) and Ares 4 went to Schiaparelli, 3400 km to the southeast.

The story assumes that on sol 6, a severe dust storm with 175 kmph winds forces an abort of Ares 3. I'm not convinced that is so serious; a 175 kmph wind on Mars generates the same force as maybe a 50 kmph wind on Earth. While the crew is dashing from the hab to the MAV, the communications antenna is ripped from the hab and smashed into Mark, piercing his suit and his thigh, causing a depressurization and damaging his suit communications. the crew looks for him, but thinks he is dead and fears the MAV will get toppled over, so they abandon his body and take off. When he wakes up, his suit has partially self sealed (the blood and the metal piece that pierced him block the hole). He hobbles back to the hab and finds he has 2 months food for 6 people, or a year of food, with no possibility of rescue for about 4 years.

The story gets quite complicated and I won't go into too many details. He raises potatoes, but a depressurizatoin event destroys his farm. He drives 1000 km to the pathfind landing site and retrieves its radio transmitter, thereby regaining communications with Earth; then the system shorts out and he's out of contact again. Strange that the tiny Pathfinder can communicate with JPL, but his two rover radios can't. He is reduced to placing rocks in Morse code patterns to let them know what he is doing; they watch him via satellites daily. A dust storm almost deprives him of power and kills him. He converts leftover hydrazine fuel into water and almost blows himself up. Eventually he gets to the Ares 4 MAV and . . . well, I won't spoil the ending. It is dramatic.

The science is pretty good, but some of the assumptions strike me as peculiar. Vasimir? Hydrazine? A hab you have to put together from little pieces?

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