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I haven’t seen The Martian, but I’m listening to the audio version of the book on which it was based. If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book, please be advised: There are minor spoilers in this post. Steer clear if you don’t want to see them. But they’re minor. If you’ve seen the movie, or read the book, please don’t give anything away that I don’t mention below! [There are some spoilers in the comments, too, but they’re clearly marked as such. Caution advised. — Eds.]
The basic premise, which you must understand to participate in this discussion, is that in the not-too-distant future, NASA is in the midst of a manned, multi-mission Mars exploration program called Ares. A few days after landing on Mars, a terrible dust storm on the planet’s surface forces the team to abort the third mission. To leave, they have to walk in space suits from their habitat to the vehicle that will take them to the ship that will in turn take them back to Earth. In the chaos of the violent storm, Mark Watney, the team’s botanist and mechanical engineer, is struck by a part of the communications antenna, which pierces his suit and his body. The team presumes him dead, and leaves Mars without him.More