Page 9 of The Martian

The hydrogen will be hot after the reaction, and it'll want to go up. So I’ll let it go up the chimney, then burn it as it comes out.

Then I had to invent fire.

NASA put a lot of effort in to making sure nothing here can burn. Everything is made of metal or flame retardant plastic and the uniforms are synthetic. I needed something that could hold a flame, some kind of pilot light. I don't have the skills to keep enough H2 flowing to feed a flame without killing myself. Too narrow a margin there.

After a search of everyone’s personal items (hey, if they wanted privacy, they shouldn’t have abandoned me on Mars with their stuff) I found my answer.

Martinez is a devout catholic. I knew that. What I didn’t know was he brought along a small wooden cross. I’m sure NASA gave him shit about it, but I also know Martinez is one stubborn son-of-a-bitch.

I chipped his sacred religious item into long splinters using a pair of pliers and a screwdriver. I figure if there’s a God, He won’t mind, considering the situation I’m in.

Ruining the only religious icon I have leaves me vulnerable to Mars Vampires. I’ll have to risk it.

There were plenty of wires and batteries around to make a spark. But you can’t just ignite wood with a small electric spark. So I collected ribbons of bark from local palm trees, then got a couple of sticks and rubbed them together to create enough friction to…

No not really. I vented pure oxygen at the stick and gave it a spark. Fucker lit up like a match.

With my mini-torch in hand, I started a slow Hydrazine flow. It sizzled on the iridium and disappeared. Soon I had short bursts of flame sputtering from the chimney.

The main thing I had watch was the temperature. Hydrazine breaking down is extremely exothermic. So I’d do it a bit at a time, constantly watching the readout of a thermocouple I’d attached to the iridium chamber.

Point is, the process worked!

Each Hydrazine tank holds a little over 50L, which would be enough to make 100L of water. I’m limited by my oxygen production, but I’m all excited now, so I'm willing to use half my reserves. Long story short, I’ll stop when the tank is half-empty, and I’ll have 50L or water at the end!

LOG ENTRY: SOL 34

Well that took a really long time. I’ve been at it all night with the Hydrazine. But I got the job done.

I could have finished faster, but I figured caution’s best when setting fire to rocket fuel in an enclosed space.

Boy is this place a tropical jungle now, I’ll tell ya.

It’s almost 30C in here, and humid as all hell. I just dumped a ton of heat and 50L of water in to the air.

During this process, the poor Hab had to be the mother of a messy toddler. It’s been replacing the oxygen I’ve used, and the Water Reclaimer is trying to get the humidity down to sane levels. Nothing to be done about the heat. There’s actually no air-conditioning in the Hab. Mars is cold. Getting rid of excess heat isn’t something we expected to deal with.

I’ve now grown accustomed to the alarms that are blaring at all times. The fire alarm has finally stopped, now that there’s no more fire. The low oxygen alarm should stop soon. The high humidity alarm will take a little longer. The Water Reclaimer has its work cut out for it today.

For a moment, there yet another alarm. The Water Reclaimer’s main tank was full. Booyah! That’s the kind of problem I want to have!

Remember the spacesuit I vandalized yesterday? I hung it on its rack and carried buckets of water to it from the reclaimer. It can hold an atmosphere of air in. It should be able to handle a few buckets of water.

Man I’m tired. Been up all night and it’s time to sleep. But I’ll drift off to dreamland in the best mood I’ve been in since Sol 6.

Things are finally going my way. In fact, they’re going great! I have a chance to live after all!

LOG ENTRY: SOL 37

I am fucked and I’m gonna die!

Ok, calm down. I’m sure I can get around this.

I’m writing this log to you, dear future Mars archeologist, from Rover 2. You may wonder why I’m not in the Hab right now. Because I fled in terror, that’s why! And I’m not sure what the hell to do next.

I guess I should explain what happened. If this is my last entry, you’ll at least know why.

Over the past few days, I've been happily making water. It’s been going swimmingly. (See what I did there? “swimmingly”)

I even beefed up the MAV fuel plant compressor. It was very technical (I increased the voltage to the pump). So I’m making water even faster now.

After my initial burst of 50L, I decided to settle down and just make it at the rate I get O2. I’m not willing to go below a 25L reserve. So when I dip too low, I stop dicking with Hydrazine until I get the O2 back up to well above 25L.

Important note: When I say I made 50L of water, that was an assumption. I didn’t *reclaim* 50L of water. The additional soil I’d filled the Hab with was extremely dry and greedily sucked up a lot of the humidity. That’s where I want the water to go anyway, so I’m not worried, and I wasn’t surprised when the reclaimer didn’t get anywhere near 50L.

I get 10L of CO2 every 15 hours now that I souped up the pump. I’ve done this process four times. My math tells me that, including my initial 50L burst, I should have 130L of water added to the system.

Well my math is a damn liar!

I’ve gained 70L in the water regulator and the spacesuit-now-watertank. There’s plenty of condensation on the walls and domed roof, and the soil is certainly absorbing its fair share. But that doesn’t account for 60L of missing water. Something was wrong.

That’s when I noticed the other O2 tank.

The Hab has two reserve O2 tanks. One on each side of the structure, for safety reasons. The Hab can decide which one to use whenever it wants. Turns out it’s been topping off the atmosphere from Tank 1. But when I add O2 to the system (via the Oxygenator), the Hab evenly distributes the gain among the two tanks. Tank 2 has been slowly gaining oxygen.

That’s not a problem, it’s just doing its job. But it does mean I’ve been gaining O2 over time. Which means I’m not consuming it as fast as I thought.

At first, I thought “Yay! More oxygen! Now I can make water faster!” But then a more disturbing thought occurred to me.

Follow my logic: I’m gaining O2. But the amount I’m bringing in from outside is constant. So the only way to “gain” it is to be using less than I thought. But I’ve been doing the Hydrazine reaction with the assumption that I was using all of it.

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