Venkat is today's guest on CNN's Mark Watney Report, where host Cathy Warner is discussing the latest satellite imagery from Mars.
By now, everyone knows that Mark is "preparing Rover 2 for a long trip" (8.9). They assume he's heading for the Ares 4 site, which would be a disaster—his rover is not only inadequate for the journey, but the Ares 4 site won't have any supplies in it.
Afterwards, Venkat meets with Mindy, Teddy, and Bruce Ng, the director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a NASA-run research organization. They're joined by Annie Montrose and Mitch Henderson, the flight director for Ares 3.
Since discovering that Mark was alive, Mindy has been given the task of monitoring him at all times. (Consider that a raise.)
Mitch is annoyed. He thinks they should notify the Ares 3 crew that Mark is alive, while Venkat and Teddy are hesitant because they want the crew to "concentrate on getting home" (8.82).
Regardless, the current plan is to use a probe originally meant for Ares 4 to send mark supplies. They'll need to launch the probe in a mere six months (way ahead of schedule), which requires them to bum a rocket booster off another probe, originally set to be launched to Saturn. #spaceproblems
Later that day, Mindy stops by Venkat's office. She tells him that Mark has just set off in the Rover—but, oddly—isn't heading towards the Ares 4 site. Hmm….
After some serious brainstorming, Venkat finally realizes what's going on—Mark is heading for Pathfinder. Mind = blown. In case you don't know, Pathfinder was one of the first unmanned Mars rovers that landed on the planet in the '90's.
So why is this such a big deal? Well, if Mark can get that thing up and running, he "can communicate" with NASA (8.191). This is a game-changer.