In this section, Mark finally makes contact with NASA. At first his contact with Earth is stilted and slow, but he is quickly able to improve the connection. I think Mark is glad to be able to reach NASA, but he also gets really annoyed with how NASA tries to tell him how to do everything. I can see his point of view. After being alone for so long and after surviving so much, it would be hard to listen to other people’s opinions again.
In chapter 14, Mark suffers a catastrophe. His potatoes are compromised, and now his food will only last until Sol 600—not Sol 900, when the planned supply probe will reach him. That puts a lot of pressure on NASA, and I’m sure it makes Mark feel a little hopeless.
Were you shocked that the ultimate solution to rescuing Mark was to have his original crew on the Hermes come back to Mars and do a rescue mission? It seems incredibly unrealistic to me to expect that the space shuttle could fly by Earth, adjust course, and make it back to Mars. What did you think of the rescue plan? Do you think it was fair of NASA to ask the crew to add over five hundred days to their journey? If you were in the Hermes crew’s shoes, would you have felt like it was the right thing to go back and rescue Mark?
In chapter 18, Mark loses contact with Earth again. He has to assume that the Hermes crew will come and get him, and he must continue to survive without the help of NASA. His spirits seem pretty high because he believes that he will be able to reconnect with his crew and come home. What do you think? What obstacles will pop up that could delay the crew or Mark’s journey to them?
Before you go, check out this clip from the movie. It explains how the Hermes crew will come and get Mark from Mars.
Make sure to leave a comment to let me know what you thought of this section. I hope you’ll join us next week as we finish the book!