Study Guide

The Martian Chapter 6

By Andy Weir

Chapter 6

  • We're now taken to NASA's Johnson Space Center, where "director of Mars operations" Venkat Kapoor has just collapsed on his desk (6.5). By now, the news of Mark's presumed death has reached Earth.
  • He's joined by Teddy Sanders, head administrator of NASA. Although Venkat was too distraught to deliver a speech on the tragedy to the public, Teddy had no such luxury.
  • To be honest, though, Venkat is too busy prepping for the Ares 4 mission to spend his time wallowing in depression. He asks Teddy to give him access to the satellites surrounding Mars, so he can determine what if anything is salvageable from the Ares 3 site.
  • Teddy is not down with that plan, however. Being a "public domain organization," NASA is required to release all of their information to the public immediately after they receive it (6.31). In Teddy's eyes, broadcasting an image of Mark's corpse would be an awful P.R. move.
  • To Venkat, however, this isn't a problem—it's an opportunity. They can use the publicity to find future missions with the express purpose of bringing Mark's body back home. It's a win-win—for everyone but Mark, that is.
  • Teddy agrees. Later that day, a scientist named Mindy Park is using satellites to investigate the Ares 3 site, but her search is "fruitless"—there's no body to be found (6.55). But then something catches her eye and she freaks out, contacting Venkat.
  • Later, we find out what Mindy saw: clean solar panels. There's no way they'd be so clean-looking without someone sweeping them off. Venkat is shocked.
  • He's nowhere near as shocked as Annie Montrose, Director of Media Relations, when she hears the news. Of course, that might have something to do with the fact that she has to actually deal with the press.
  • She suggests contacting Commander Lewis and the rest of the Ares 3 crew, but Teddy shoots down the idea. In his eyes, telling them that they'd "abandoned [Mark] alive" would kill their morale, and they still have ten months before they reach home (6.110).
  • As soon as Annie hosts a press conference announcing the news, it instantly becomes "the top story on every news network in the world" (6.127). CNN even creates a new show called The Mark Watney report dedicated to this one nerdy botanist—it's basically Serial times a billion.
  • So far, their only plan for rescue is to wait for the Ares 4 mission. With four years to go until that mission can become a reality, however, they'll need to think of something else—and quick.

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