Notice: If you haven’t seen or read The Martian yet, don’t read this article as it contains spoilers about the ending of the story.
Astronaut Mark Watney in Andy Weir’s hit novel The Martian became a true Mars survivalist when he became stranded on the red planet during a huge storm which caused the rest of his team to evacuate. Watney was left on the planet and was presumed dead by everyone on Earth. However, he was miraculously preserved as a means of space debris and blood loss clotting a major hole in his space suit, preventing enough air from escaping for him to breath. This resulted in Watney being left alone on Mars until his crew came back to pick him up after almost a year in space. What events occurred during this pickup has real life scientists questioning some inaccuracies that would’ve proven to be pretty severe in real life.
Scientists at the Science of The Martian panel at Phoenix Comic Con 2016 have calculated that due to the serious gravity shifts Watney went through during his evacuation and stay on Mars and the fact that malnutrition almost occurred during his whole time on the red planet, the astronaut would’ve been in a wheelchair “for a very long time” since he’d be so weak. Of course, throughout the film, you see Watney look pretty sick at some points due to the fact that potatoes was his only food supply for so long, however when he was picked up by his fellow crew mates and got aboard the Hermes which took him back to Earth, you notice that he’s able to complete some serious tasks someone stranded in space for almost a year with practically nothing to eat would never be able to complete right after he got back… like walking. Outer Places explains this discovery in a bit more detail:
The microgravity in particular would have caused a problem, as ISS astronauts have been shown to lose bone and muscle mass after only a few months on the ISS, even while under a strict diet and exercise regimen. After his entire ordeal on the Hermes and on Mars, which has only 30% of Earth’s gravity, and without proper interventions during his trip, Mark Watney’s body would have been “significantly weaker,” according to ASU planetary scientist Andy Ryan.
Don’t let this discovery discourage you that we’ll never get to Mars and one day live there. Better precautions just have to be taken first. I mean seriously, did NASA think they’d have to plan for a stranded astronaut rescue? Well, now they can (and know that they probably should just because).
A speaker at this panel stated that even though there would be complications, you could live on the red planet and not die as soon as you got there.
“One third [of Earth’s gravity] is technically the threshold,” said Wargetz. “There would still be deterioration, but not so much that they would die right away.”
By simply taking care of yourself and following healthy regimens, you can survive on Mars for long periods of time without entering the big, white, pearly gates in the sky. Mars trips will be even better if they’re short, such as simple science experiments or rock collecting.
Nonetheless, I thought this discovery was quite interesting, especially since it’s not featured in the movie or book. I’d assume Andy Weir would’ve thought of this in the first place, right? Well, not everyone’s perfect (or, for that matter, entirely accurate).
Source: Outer Places
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