Watney is The Martian’s protagonist, and he narrates large sections of the novel. A NASA astronaut on the Ares 3 mission, Watney is accidentally left behind on Mars by the rest of the crew… read analysis of Mark Watney
Commander Melissa Lewis
As commander of the Ares 3 mission, Lewis takes her responsibility to protect her crew extremely seriously. She is also the crew’s geologist. She was previously in the navy and is still considered military personnel… read analysis of Commander Melissa Lewis
Major Rick Martinez
A former Air Force pilot, Martinez is still military personnel but is now the pilot for the Ares 3 mission. His precision as a pilot is noted repeatedly by Watney and other characters throughout the… read analysis of Major Rick Martinez
A “computer geek” and career software engineer, Johanssen’s coding skills enable the Hermes crew to override NASA controls and perform the Rich Purnell Maneuver without authorization. She likes the Beatles and Agatha Christie novels. Blonde… read analysis of Beth Johanssen
A low-level employee who processes Satellite images at NASA Satellite Control (Sat Con), Mindy is the first person on Earth to realize that Watney is still alive. She quickly becomes involved in conversations with upper-level… read analysis of Mindy Park
As Director of Media Relations at NASA, Annie is responsible for keeping the public and the media informed on developments with Watney and the Ares 3 mission. Part of her job is to “spin” stories… read analysis of Annie Montrose
As Flight Director for Ares 3, Mitch has strong opinions about how to communicate with the Ares 3 crew. He clashes with Teddy over the decision not to tell the crew that Watney is still… read analysis of Mitch Henderson
Dr. Irene Shields
As flight psyschologist for the Ares missions, Shields knows Watney and the other Ares 3 crew members relatively well. She appears several times on the Mark Watney Report to discuss the psychological impact of space… read analysis of Dr. Irene Shields
Watney doesn’t reveal much about his mother, except that, when he complained about shoveling snow as a kid, she told him not to be a “wuss.” When she writes a letter to him after he… read analysis of Watney’s mother
The only non-American member of the Ares 3 crew, Vogel is a German representing the EU on the mission. He is also the mission’s official chemist.
Beck is the Ares 3 crew’s resident doctor, biologist, and EVA specialist. During the fly-by, it is his responsibility to leave Hermes, reach Watney, and bring him back to the ship. During the mission, he and Johanssen fall in love.
Venkat is the Director of Mars Operations and one of NASA’s top managers. He tends to support Teddy’s decisions. While he initially underestimates Mindy’s abilities as a scientist, he also promotes her and advocates for her in front of other NASA managers.
Chuck works on radio communications at NASA. He is a colleague of Morris.
Morris works with Chuck on radio communications at NASA.
CNN reporter and host of the Mark Watney Report, a daily half-hour special covering Watney and the effort to rescue him.
Director of NASA’s JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) in Los Angeles.
Director of Satellite Control and Mindy’s boss.
A US Postal Service official, Washington is interviewed by Cathy Warner on The Mark Watney Report about the discontinuation of Mark Watney commemorative stamps.
Tim runs the communications console at the Pathfinder control center at JPL.
Reporter for NBC news.
Reporter for BBC.
A software engineer at NASA, Jack finds a way to implement code that allows Pathfinder and Watney’s rover to “talk” to each other, which significantly improves the efficiency of communications between Watney and NASA.
The US president calls NASA managers several times.
An astrodynamist at NASA, Purnell independently develops the risky Rich Purnell Maneuver, which allows the Hermes ship to change course and rescue Watney in a “fly-by” before returning to Earth with all six members of the Ares 3 crew.
Rich Purnell’s boss, Mike works in NASA’s astrodynamics department.
Maurice was scheduled to be the pad leader for the EagleEye 3 mission. When NASA decides to use the EagleEye 3 booster for the Iris probe, Maurice becomes the pad leader for the Iris launch.
A NASA nutritionist who advises top management on Watney’s food supply, particularly on his risks of starvation and malnutrition.
Director of the China National Space Administration. Guo is just as frustrated by the CNSA’s bureaucratic procedures as Watney is with NASA’s.
Under Director of the China National Space Administration.
An up-and-comer at NASA, Hutch is in charge of Mission Control from 1am to 9am. He is the first person on Earth to learn of the Hermes mutiny.
Commander Lewis’ husband. Robert shares his wife’s love of disco and 1970s pop culture.
Su Bin Bao
A CNSA employee, Su serves as Teddy and Venkat’s guide and translator while they are in China.
Vogel’s wife, a teacher at a grammar school in Bremen.
Vogel and Helena’s daughter.
Vogel and Helena’s son.
Though she does not appear in the novel, Vogel and Helena reference her in conversation.
Martinez’s wife. She and Martinez have known each other since they were fifteen.
Johanssen’s father works as the district sales manager of a napkin factory. He’s both incredibly proud of his daughter, and incredibly worried about her.
Johanssen’s mother never appears in the book, but according to her husband (Johanssen’s father) her worries over her daughter’s life and safety are having a strong negative effect on her own mental health and quality of life.
Martian meteorologist at NASA.
Watney doesn’t reveal much about his father, except that he made him shovel snow as a kid, and that he drove really slowly on the freeway. He lives in Chicago with Watney’s mother.