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Piling on

Warning: spoiler. Matt Damon doesn’t die.

My small contribution to the scientific errors of The Martian that took me out of the movie: duct tape just doesn’t work in those temps.

Unless there’s some special NASA-grade low temperature duct tape that isn’t available in the 171 stockroom [1].

There is tape that’s good to -4 C. That would work at noon at the equator on Mars on a sunny warm day.

These folks recommend packing it for trips to Antarctica. But I think that’s for the summer. Winter, or South Pole, no way.

But duct-taping your cracked helmet, with the duct tape on your harness [2], the outer part of which is at low Mars temps? Not gonna happen. That stuff is just gonna fall right off.

In the Arctic, in temps around -18 C, the only way to get duct tape to work was to keep it, and the thing you wanted to tape, next to your body. I.e., in an inside coat pocket, or your sleeping bag. Right next to your water bottle.

Also, jumping in the rover and pulling your gloves off right away? Recipe for frost-nip. Also, those astro-underwear are going to be very chafing after that length of time. Maybe he got to wash them when he was in the hab. He did say that he hadn’t had a shower in a year and a half, even though we got to see his naked ass coming out of the shower right before he took off for Ares IV.

[1] Why is he wearing a Petzl harness with a Bachmann knot on a locker every time we seem him? Is he expecting to go mountain-climbing on a moment’s notice? Seems unlikely in a pressure suit. Also – the spectacular cliffs with the dark-brown, almost black, desert varnish? That’s caused by fungii in contact with water – dew specifically. Not gonna happen on Mars. In fact, in the desert, the cliffs that don’t get exposed to dew are often dusty and chossy, because the fungii doesn’t grow without the moisture. Not in the Mojave, not in Wadi Rum.

[2] No, JPL looks nothing like what was depicted in the movie. And no one outside the director has a huge office with a couch and a sink and a microwave. Ha ha ha. It’s cubicle land, just like everywhere else (cough, Dilbert). Thanks, Herman Miller, who also gave me the Aeron’s that save my back. Herman Miller giveth, and Herman Miller taketh away.

[3] Let’s just not mention all the extremely attractive people in key roles who would never work at NASA. And the method of making them nerds, to wit: ugly eyeglasses. Until later in the movie, when they either get Lindbergs or lose the BCGs entirely.