Surviving on Mars, with Andy Weir

Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon, surviving on Mars. ™ and © 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

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About This Episode

What will it take to survive on Mars? To find out, Neil deGrasse Tyson interviews Andy Weir, best-selling novelist and author of The Martian, which was adapted into a feature film starring Matt Damon as astronaut Mark Watney and received 7 Academy Awards nominations. Andy, a college dropout turned software engineer and card-carrying geek, explains the extensive process of bringing his novel to the screen while remaining more scientifically accurate than most other Hollywood blockbusters – a 2% error in launch calculations and an overly-aggressive dust storm notwithstanding. Neil and co-host Matt Kirshen talk about exploring Mars with Adam Steltzner, who led the “Entry, Descent, and Landing” team for the Mars Curiosity rover, and Dr. Jim Green, Director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA. You’ll find out about the numerous obstacles humans face for surviving on Mars, including air-pressure-related dangers like exploding eyes, the abundance of carbon dioxide, solar radiation, and the vast remoteness of Mars. Learn about the challenges of sending the Curiosity rover to Mars, including the terrifying process of landing. Adam also discusses when the next rover will head to Mars with advanced scientific capabilities, and why human exploration has always moved at an incremental pace. You’ll also hear how to grow food on Mars, the history of water on Mars, and what Curiosity found underneath the rusty, red Martian surface. All this, plus Sheyna Gifford gives us a tour of HI-SEAS, the Martian simulation habitat in Hawai’i; Chuck Nice roams the streets of New York looking for people willing to take the one-way trip to Mars; and Bill Nye provides some new perspective from high above NYC about how important stories like The Martian are as inspiration to advance us towards the next frontier.

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Surviving on Mars, with Andy Weir, as well as Neil’s extended interview with Andy Weir here.

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  • Sofie

    love the song by Hidinin!

  • Neil’s trailer has Hermes departing from LEO (Low Earth Orbit). At 2 mm/s^2 , it’d take Hermes more than 40 days to spiral out of earth’s gravity well. Which would completely wreck Weir’s 124 day trajectory. Moreover, most of that 40 days would be spent in the Van Allen belts cooking the astronauts.

  • Ryan Johnson

    I just have to say – Playing “I Will Survive” was absolute DJ mastery right there. Perfectly played, as the conversation had largely to do with “The Martian”

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