Tag Archives: Mars

Just finished “The Martian” book

What a terrific read! I know, where have I been… I haven’t even seen the movie; my friend Charles loaned me the book last week and I read it today. All the way from Sol 6 to Sol 549. Weir hit it out of the park!
Loads of fun, well done from a general science-y point of view, and gave a generally fair picture of aspects of NASA that were coherent with this old JPLer’s memory. NASA has its extreme bureaucracy, but when the scientists, mission designers, engineers and marvelous machinists (gotta have those marvelous machinists) got running on a project, the enthusiasm and expertise was awesome.
In 1990, I switched over from Division 33, Section 333 Communications Ground Systems, to Section 336, Spacecraft Telecommunications Equipment, to help build Earth-orbiting radars and, later, transponders (two-way data radios) for Mars-, Jupiter-, and Saturn-bound missions. Ultimately I got to lead a group within 336, Spacecraft Transponders; we had a tremendous assortment of projects going on in the group of about 25 to 30 engineers, scientists and technicians.
While reading the book today, I had to trace the character Mark Watney’s sojourn across Mars to get and keep my bearings. Fortunately, someone at JPL had already taken care of that and I was able to scope the important spots out by using the Mars Trek app in my browser!