Study Guide

The Martian Chapter 11

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Chapter 11

  • We watch as Venkat, Bruce, and a team of JPL scientists celebrate the first ping from the Pathfinder lander.
  • Back on Mars, Mark is crying tears of joy. After 97 days of isolation, he finally has someone to talk to. (If only he could get Snapchat working.)
  • Finally, the first image from Mars comes into NASA HQ. It's "a handwritten note, suspended at the camera's height," telling them to point the camera in one direction to say yes, and another to say no (11.58).
  • There's just one problem—it takes nearly thirty minutes to send messages back and forth, making their conversation slower than a snail swimming in molasses.
  • As always, Mark comes up with a resourceful plan. He creates a system that allows NASA to point the camera at different spots for different letters of the alphabet. It's still quite slow, but it's a massive improvement.
  • Back at NASA, Venkat is approached by a software engineer named Jack Trevor who has an interesting idea: they can hack Pathfinder to receive messages directly on "the rover screen" (11.110). The only problem is that they'll have to first transmit the code to Mark, who will have to do the actual hacking himself.
  • Although Mark is no techie, he manages to enter in the code as well as if he were a star on The Big Bang Theory.
  • Meanwhile, Mitch is talking with Teddy, demanding that they tell the Ares 3 crew that Mark is alive. Now that "there's hope," Teddy finally agrees (11.236).

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