The Maretian

by Kris Overstreet

Chapter 213: Sol 389

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[09:08] JPL: You want us to do what so the what will what with the what?

[09:36] WATNEY: Okay, maybe I should fill you in a bit more. I plan to take one of the Hab laptops, install the rover control package on it, and plug in Rover 1’s discarded atmospheric analyzer. I’ll then fix another wire that can run through the cave airlock to the Ares III MAV fuel plant. When CO2 drops below one hundred parts per million in the cave, I want the computer to turn on the fuel plant, which I’m rigging to release CO2 from a storage tank into the cave. When CO2 rises above five hundred ppm, I want the computer to shut off the fuel plant. The ponies have a spare automatic air pressure release valve I can use to prevent air pressure from getting dangerously high inside the cave. This will replace the CO2 provided by the pony air exchange system once we’re gone.

[10:03] JPL: Mark, I might mention it’s extremely A. M. here in Houston right now. My bed thinks I’m having an affair with a sofa. I don’t even want to know what my wife thinks.

[10:12] HERMES: Johanssen here. I can do it. Mark, I’ll send you details on where and how to splice a spare USB connector onto the MAV fuel plant control board to make this work. The software patch will take about two hours plus debugging.

[10:23] JPL: Bless you, Beth. Mark, I hope you can be finished with this in equally rapid time. By the way, how’s the weather today?

[14:18] WATNEY: Thanks, Johanssen. We all appreciate it. Expect a big pony hug from Commander Berry once we dock with Hermes.

The sky today is overcast, covered in vaguely pink-tinted cirrus clouds. The pink, I assume, means that the atmosphere has run out of condensable water vapor and that the dust is winning again. Hab power systems show solar cells running at about 90% efficiency, which will probably go back to full power once the clouds clear out.

We moved the fuel plant to the cave today and installed an air line through the cave wall. The seal is good. The Hab has one spare air circulation fan in stores; I’m going to install that on the end of the air line to provide some air mixing and circulation in the cave when we’re gone. There are plugs in the airlock I can use to route the control wires for the fuel plant, and they check out.

Thanks, guys. Between this and the other work we’ve done, the cave farm has a fighting chance to still be alive when Ares V or whoever return here. I appreciate the help.

[14:38] HERMES: No problem, Mark. I’m writing the program to activate the analyzer at hourly intervals. You’ll need to keep the analyzer away from the CO2 outlet line so it doesn’t skew the results. I’ll send the program by direct uplink, but it’ll take most of a day to download at current bandwidth. Probably day after tomorrow.

[14:44] JPL: This is Dr. Kapoor’s bed speaking. Why do you horrible people have to break up a happy home for your selfish, uncaring desires? We were so happy together, once. Can’t you just leave us alone?

[14:46] JPL: Again, that was not me. Whoever it was is lucky I’ve had my third cup of coffee. Bruce, your people continue to tap-dance on the edge of destruction.

[14:48] JPL: Venkat, darling, come home. I’ve put on your favorite sheets, with the hospital corners you like so much…

[14:50] JPL: And I thought astronauts were the only adrenaline junkies working for NASA…

Author's Notes:

Sorry this is all I have. I have a lot of work to do before leaving Thursday for Amarillo, and I've not been feeling well the last couple of days. If it persists after the trip, I'll call the doctor and try to get an appointment. (I'm not doing it now because it takes weeks to get an appointment, by which time whatever it is might clear up by itself.)

Next Chapter: Sols 392-395 Estimated time remaining: 8 Hours, 29 Minutes
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