Study Guide

The Martian Chapter 1

By Andy Weir

Chapter 1

  • Mark Watney is in some serious trouble. How serious, you ask? Well, the guy is on course to become "the only human being to have died on Mars," (1.6) so we'd wager that it's time to panic.
  • Mark was a part of Ares 3, the third manned mission from Earth to Mars. Like the two previous teams, his crew traveled through space on Hermes, a mega-expensive, one-of-a-kind space ship.
  • But Hermes doesn't land directly on the planet—instead, it chills in orbit while the crew rides down in the MDV (Mars Descent Vehicle).
  • As usual, NASA preloaded the planet with all of the supplies they'd need on their short mission. This process took a whopping three years.
  • The "most important piece of the advance supplies" was the MAV (Mars Ascent Vehicle), another fancy-schmanchy ship meant to launch the crew from the surface back to Hermes (1.24). The MAV is housed beside the Hab, a large inflatable structure that the crew will call home during their mission.
  • We're getting a little ahead of ourselves, though, because we still don't know what happened to Mark. Well, as it turns out, the crew was hit by a major storm six days after they landed—a storm more powerful than anything they expected.
  • So the crew huddled in the Hab, waiting for NASA to give them the word on whether to abort the mission. NASA contacts them a few hours later to abort, and the crew hustles to the Hab in pairs of two.
  • Unfortunately for Mark, he happens to be running by when a particularly strong gust of wind rips their communication dish straight off the Hab, sending the antenna straight into (and through) Mark's body. That's got to sting.
  • Mark wakes to the "steady, obnoxious beeping" of his oxygen alarm"—not typically a good sign (1.32). He's bleeding, but that actually turns out to be a good thing, because the dried blood has pooled and is sealing up the hole in his suit. He manages to use his patch kit to fully seal the hole before getting up.
  • The MAV (and his crewmates) is gone. Mark realizes that the antenna busted up his biometric computer, which would've given his buddies the false impression that he was dead.
  • Although Mark isn't bitter about their decision to leave, he's understandably distraught over his situation. He only has enough supplies to last a thirty-one day mission and no way to communicate with Earth. Those aren't great odds.

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