Re: They are just playing
Well, truthfully, I would see little reason for a return trip were NASA wise enough to let me loose on Mars.
Though I probably wouldn't survive the training, nor the launch to Earth orbit so that's a moot point but if I did survive through those and the landing, I'd be happier never to leave.
Just fit me with some batteries and a toolbox with 1970-s replacement parts and screw-drivers and I could also have fun reviving everything from Viking to Beagle. Maybe I could even swap the battery packs for RTG's and have the little robots run about and talk to Earth for decades?
Yerp, I could find endless amusement.
Mr. Watney had no vision. He could have owned an entire *world*. :)
[Aside: why didn't a *Botanist* have live seeds of mosses, fungi, flowers, fruits, trees and fishes to test the growth potential of the Martian dirt on? Why else would he be on the mission? And if there were RTG's around, why not power the rovers with them? Solar power on Mars is a daft choice.] [Sorry, that's off-topic, yes? :) ] [But those types of thing *bother* me. RTG's are lighter than solar arrays for the power they supply and cheaper, getting the plutonium off of the Earth means it can never hurt the cute, fluffy bunnies and RTG's in the rovers can be used to charge up all sorts of things when not roving about and the only reason for a Botanist is to *botany*. Him taking soil samples is a waste of his degrees.]