The Martian

Page 8

The best way to store the ingredients of water is to make them be water. So what’s what I’ll have to do.

The concept is simple, but the execution will be incredibly dangerous.

Every 20 hours, I’ll have 10L of CO2 thanks to the MAV fuel plant. I’ll vent it in to the Hab via the highly scientific method of  detaching the tank from the MAV landing struts, bringing it in to the Hab, then opening the valve until it’s empty.

The Oxygenator will turn it in to oxygen in its own time.

Then, I’ll release Hydrazine, VERY SLOWLY, over the iridium catalyst, to turn it in to N2 and H2. I’ll direct the hydrogen to a small area and burn it.

As you can see, this plan provides many opportunities for me to die in a fiery explosion.

Firstly, Hydrazine is some serious death. If I make any mistakes, there’ll be nothing left but the “Mark Watney Memorial Crater” where the Hab once stood.

Presuming I don’t fuck up with the Hydrazine, there’s still the matter of burning hydrogen. I’m going to be setting a fire. In the Hab. On purpose.

If you asked every engineer at NASA what the worst scenario for the Hab was, they’d all answer “fire.” If you asked them what the result would be, they’d answer “death by fire.”

But if I can pull it off, I’ll be making water continuously, with no need to store hydrogen or oxygen. It’ll be mixed in to the atmosphere as humidity, but the Water Reclaimer will pull it out.

I don’t even have to perfectly match the Hydrazine end of it with the fuel plant CO2 part. There’s plenty of oxygen in the Hab, and plenty more in reserve. I just need to make sure not to make so much water I run myself out of O2.

I hooked up the MAV fuel plant to the Hab’s power supply. Fortunately they both use the same voltage. It’s chugging away, collecting CO2 for me.

Half-ration for dinner. All I accomplished today was thinking up a plan that’ll kill me, and that doesn’t take much energy.

I’m going to finish off the last of “Three’s Company” tonight. Frankly, I like Mr. Furley more than the Ropers.


This may be my last entry.

I’ve known since Sol 6 there was a good chance I’d die here. But I figured it would be when I ran out of food. I didn’t think it would be this early.

I’m about the fire up the Hydrazine.

Our mission was designed knowing that anything might need maintenance, so I have plenty of tools. Even in a space-suit, I was able to pry the access panels off the MDV and get at the six Hydrazine tanks. I set them in the shadow of a rover to keep them from heating up too much. There’s more shade and a cooler temperature near the Hab, but fuck that. If they’re going to blow up, they can blow up a rover, not my house.

Then I pried out the reaction chamber. It took some work and I cracked the damn thing in half, but I got it out. Lucky for me I don’t need a proper fuel reaction. In fact, I really, super-duper don’t want a proper fuel reaction.

I brought all the Hydrazine and reaction chamber in. I briefly considered only having one tank in at a time to reduce risk. But some back-of-the-napkin math told me even one tank was enough to blow the whole Hab up, so why not bring them all in?

The tanks have manual vent valves. I’m not 100% sure what they’re for. Certainly we were never expected to use them. I think they’re there to release pressure during the many quality checks done during construction and before fueling. Whatever the reason, I have valves to work with. All it takes is a wrench.

I liberated a spare water hose from the Water Reclaimer. With some thread torn out of a uniform (Sorry, Johanssen), I attached it to the valve output. Hydrazine is a liquid, so all I have to do is lead it to the reaction chamber (more of a “reaction bowl” now).

Meanwhile, the MAV fuel plant is still working. I’ve already brought in one tank of CO2, vented it, and returned it for refilling.

So there are no more excuses. It’s time to start making water.

If you find the charred remains of the Hab, it means I did something wrong. I’m copying this log over to both rovers so it’s more likely it’ll survive.

Here goes nothin’


Well, I didn’t die.

First thing I did was put on the inner lining of my EVA suit. Not the bulky suit itself, just the inner clothing I wear under it, including the gloves and booties. Then I got an oxygen mask from the medical supplies and some lab goggles from Vogel's chem kit. Almost all of my body was now protected and I would be breathing canned air.

Why? Because  Hydrazine is very toxic. If I breathe too much of it I'll get major lung problems. If I get it on my skin, I'll have chemical burns for the rest of my life. I wasn't taking any chances.

I turned the valve until a trickle of Hydrazine came out. I let one drop fall in to the iridium bowl.

It un-dramatically sizzled and disappeared.

But hey, that’s what I wanted. I just freed up hydrogen and nitrogen. Yay!

One thing I have in abundance here is bags. They’re not much different than kitchen trash bags, though I’m sure they cost $50,000 because NASA.

In addition to being our commander, Lewis was also the geologist. She was going to collect rock and soil samples from all over the operational area (10 km radius). Weight limits restricted how much she could actually bring back, so she was going to collect first, then sort out the most interesting 50kg to take home. The bags are to store and tag the samples. Some are smaller than a Ziploc, while others are as big as a Hefty lawn and leaf bag.

Also, I have duct tape. Ordinary duct tape, like you buy at a hardware store. Turns out even NASA can’t improve on duct tape.

I cut up a few Hefty sized bags and taped them together to make a sort of tent. Really it was more of a super-sized bag. I was able to cover the whole table where my Hydrazine mad scientist set-up was. I put a few knickknacks on the table to keep the plastic out of the iridium bowl. Thankfully, the bags are clear, so I can still see what’s going on.

Next, I sacrificed a spacesuit to the cause. I needed an air hose. I have a surplus of space suits, after all. A total of seven; one for each crewmember and one spare. So I don’t mind murdering one of them.

I cut a hole in the top of the plastic and duct taped the hose in place. Nice seal, I think.

With some more string from Johannsen’s clothing, I hung the other end of the hose from the top of the Hab's dome by two angled threads (to keep them well clear of the hose opening). Now I had a little chimney. The hose was about 1cm wide. Hopefully a good aperture.

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