The Martian

by Andy Weir


8 Tips for Surviving on Mars from Andy Weir

So you want to live on Mars. Perhaps it’s the rugged terrain, beautiful scenery, or vast natural landscape that appeals to you. Or maybe you’re just a lunatic who wants to survive in a lifeless barren wasteland. Whatever your reasons, there are a few things you should know:

1: You’re going to need a pressure vessel.

Mars’s atmospheric pressure is less than one percent of Earth’s. So basically, it’s nothing. Being on the surface of Mars is almost the same as being in deep space. You better bring a nice, sturdy container to hold air in. By the way, this will be your home forever. So try to make it as big as you can.

2: You’re going to need oxygen.

You probably plan to breathe during your stay, so you’ll need to have something in that pressure vessel. Fortunately, you can get this from Mars itself. The atmosphere is very thin, but it is present and it’s almost entirely carbon dioxide. There are lots of ways to strip the carbon off carbon dioxide and liberate the oxygen. You could have complex mechanical oxygenators or you could just grow some plants.

3: You’re going to need radiation shielding.

Earth’s liquid core gives it a magnetic field that protects us from most of the nasty crap the sun pukes out at us. Mars has no such luxury. All kinds of solar radiation gets to the surface. Unless you’re a fan of cancer, you’re going to want your accommodations to be radiation-shielded. The easiest way to do that is to bury your base in Martian sand and rocks. They’re not exactly in short supply, so you can just make the pile deeper and deeper until it’s blocking enough.

4: You’re going to need water.

Again, Mars provides. The Curiosity probe recently discovered that Martian soil has quite a lot of ice in it. About 35 liters per cubic meter. All you need to do is scoop it up, heat it, and strain out the water. Once you have a good supply, a simple distillery will allow you to reuse it over and over.

5: You’re going to need food.

Just eat Martians. They taste like chicken.

6: Oh, come on.

All right, all right. Food is the one thing you need that can’t be found in abundance on Mars. You’ll have to grow it yourself. But you’re in luck, because Mars is actually a decent place for a greenhouse. The day/night cycle is almost identical to Earth’s, which Earth plants evolved to optimize for. And the total solar energy hitting the surface is enough for their needs.

But you can’t just grow plants on the freezing, near-vacuum surface. You’ll need a pressure container for them as well. And that one might have to be pretty big. Just think of how much food you eat in a year and imagine how much space it takes to grow it.

Hope you like potatoes. They’re the best calorie yield per land area.

7: You’re going to need energy.

However you set things up, it won’t be a self-contained system. Among other things, you’ll need to deal with heating your home and greenhouse. Mars’s average daily temperature is -50C (-58F), so it’ll be a continual energy drain to keep warm. Not to mention the other life support systems, most notably your oxygenator. And if you’re thinking your greenhouse will keep the atmosphere in balance, think again. A biosphere is far too risky on this scale.

8: You’re going to need a reason to be there.

Why go out of your way to risk your life? Do you want to study the planet itself? Start your own civilization? Exploit local resources for profit? Make a base with a big death ray so you can address the UN while wearing an ominous mask and demand ransom? Whatever your goal is, you better have it pretty well defined, and you better really mean it. Because in the end, Mars is a harsh, dangerous place and if something goes wrong you’ll have no hope of rescue. Whatever your reason is, it better be worth it.

First Published


Member Reviews Write your own review




0 Responses posted in March


Es macht verdammt viel Freude dem einzigen Bewohner dieses Planeten beim Basteln zu begleiten. Insbesondere weil er seinen Humor nicht verliert. Mir waren manche detailierten Beschreibungen zu viel, aber hey, wer weiß, wann man die mal selber braucht...

1 Response posted in December


Die häufigen technischen Abläufe/Beschreibungen waren mir ab und zu ein wenig zu trocken. Dennoch gerade zum Ende hin sehr spannend und somit auch lesenswert

0 Responses posted in October


Incredible read. Picked it up and couldn't put it down. Finished in 2 days!

0 Responses posted in July


Wirkliche Science-**Fiction**. Das Buch strotzt vor Berechnungen und technischer Details, die Hand und Fuß zu haben scheinen. Gleichzeitig ist die Geschichte sehr fesselnd, weil man ständig wissen will, wie es dem witzigen und gewitzten Astronauten weiter ergehen wird. Das Buch wird nicht von Pathos und Sentimentalität überfrachtet. Für technisch interessiertere Zeitgenossen durchaus zu empfehlen.

0 Responses posted in June


This book is the modern Robinson Crusoe.

0 Responses posted in May


Do caralho!

0 Responses posted in March


I can't say enough about this book. I was hooked by the first few pages and sustained throughout. Weir has a great blend of humor, technical information, and storyline to be compelling to the end. I loved how the setting isn't necessarily Science Fiction in that most* of the technology is current. Cheers to Andy Weir.

0 Responses posted in February
Log in to comment