Part of the story-line for the Martian involves Watney salvaging parts from "Rover 1":

enter image description here

But the movie doesn't really touch on what happened to Rover 1, perhaps the book goes into more detail about this, but it seems like something else took down Rover 1 other than the storm that caused the crew to abort the mission.

Admittedly I haven't read the book, but does anybody know what happened to Rover 1?

3 Answers 3


The movie and your picture make it clear. Rover 1 was made inoperable by the same sand storm that almost killed and stranded Mark.

In the book, both Rovers are fine. The official screenplay also implies it. The movie straight out changes it. For background in the book, screenplay & movie, during the storm, Watney is suggesting to anchor the MAV with the guy-lines of the Solar Farm/Comm Mast tied to the Rovers. In mid sentence, he gets smashed by flying debris.

Later, in his science the shit out of this speech, the screenplay and movie differ:

But here’s the rub. I’ve got two rovers designed to go a max distance of 35 kilometers before they need to be recharged at the Hab. That’s problem A.


Okay, so here's the rub. I've got one working Rover designed to go a max distance of 35 kilometers before the battery has to be recharged at the Hab. That's Problem A.

Both feature the same scavenging of Rover 1, as does the book.

While the Book goes out of its way to point out that both Rovers were designed to take a beating in a sand storm, the screenplay is vague about Rover 1's condition, and the movie shows us how beat up it was.

Rover 1, which is identical to Rover 2, is clearly smashed in, half buried and sticking up in the air. At Least one of it's 6 wheels have fallen off!

enter image description here

Triple A doesn't provide service on Mars yet.

For reference, Book, Chapter 2:

Both rovers are half-buried in sand, but they’re in good shape otherwise. Their pressure seals are intact. Makes sense. Operating procedure when a storm hits is to stop motion and wait for the storm to pass. They’re made to stand up to punishment. I’ll be able to dig them out with a day or so of work.

  • I think this is probably the most plausible explanation, real-world physics of Martian sand-storms aside. Thank you.
    – Ron Beyer
    Aug 24, 2016 at 1:45
  • @RonBeyer it wouldn't just be the sand, any large rocks, or maybe a nice aerodynamic, heavy communications dish hit it. The storm is strong enough to force them to use the thrusters just to keep the MAV from tipping over.
    – cde
    Aug 24, 2016 at 2:25
  • 1
    In the movie yes, however in reality a Martian dust storm does not have the power to do the type of damage the movie portrays, which was some creative license that Andy Weir took.
    – Ron Beyer
    Aug 24, 2016 at 2:31
  • @RonBeyer - I've seen him readily admit in interviews to the non-science license he took with that detail. Mar 29, 2017 at 15:24
  • Clearly you mean MAA nor AAA.
    – Aron
    Mar 30, 2017 at 7:43

In the books, both Rovers are operable until Mark Watney makes the arbitrary decision to loot one of the Rovers for parts.

From The Martian, Chapter 7:

I'll need to trick out a rover. Basically it'll have to be a mobile Hab. I'll pick Rover 2 as my target. We have a certain bond, after I spent two days in it during the Great Hydrogen Scare of Sol 37.


Having rendered Rover 1 unusable, I'll have to use my mutant rover for the trip.

  • I guess that explains what happened to it in the book, but I'm still curious what happened to it in the movie... It seems to be wildly different than the book then, the movie version looks to be severely damaged or even burned.
    – Ron Beyer
    Aug 17, 2016 at 21:08
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    @RonBeyer I'll have to take a look. It's been a while since I've seen the movie.
    – kuhl
    Aug 18, 2016 at 11:06

Rover 1 was damaged by the MAV takeoff. Remember, Martinez drive it over to do his checks while everyone else was doing their work near the HAB. When they evacuated, they left Rover 2 and walked to the MAV.

  • 1
    This is clearly not the case as evidenced by the other answers
    – Paulie_D
    Jan 1, 2017 at 20:08
  • 1
    You are correct when you watch the first mav take off you see the rover being blown over by the rocket exhaust and the rover rolling off to the side
    – Eric Drew
    Aug 15, 2017 at 0:56

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