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The Actual Blog Post About "The Martian"

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rednytewign

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I recently wrote a blog post about intonation and constructive interference and posted it under a title having to do with Andy Weir's novel The Martian that I'd initially written as a joke because I had no idea what to write about in my post at first. But after posting that one, I realized there were actually a bunch of physics things I could talk about in the book. 

I'm assuming a lot of people have read the book or seen the movie but just to be safe I'm going to talk about something that happens near the end (spoilers ahead).

When the MAV launches from Mars with Mark Watney inside, he ends up way of course and sixty-eight kilometers from Hermes. The MAV had no fuel to try to redirect its course, so Hermes attempted to use the attitude adjusters to get closer, but steady, powerful engines meant Hermes would approach the MAV at far too high of a velocity to get Watney and they didn't have enough fuel to slow back down. So instead, Watney and Commander Lewis came up with a plan to open up the vehicular airlock in order to let out the air from the ship into the vacuum of space. It's Newton's third law in action: the force of the gas being expelled from the ship creates an equal force in the opposite direction. It accelerated Hermes at twenty nine meters per second squared so that their relative velocity afterwards would be thirteen meters per second instead of forty two, as it would have been using the attitude adjusters--much more doable. 

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