Last week's episode of The Expanse saw Bobbie take a long-awaited vacation, but perhaps not the kind she was hoping for. While she prepared herself to be interrogated by a panel of UN officials on Earth, there was something more pressing on her mind: what was Earth really like?
A born-and-bred Martian, Bobbie had never set foot on the green and blue planet. She's been training her whole life for a potential war with the "Blues", and is the true embodiment of Martian fortitude. But for some of her more seasoned stoic comrades, the new environment proved entirely overwhelming the minute they stepped foot off the shuttle, with one officer immediately collapsing and throwing up in front of the UN's very own surveillance droids.
It was more than just an embarrassing end to a rough arrival; it was the effect of Earth's atmosphere. But if Bobbie and her fellow Martians are still human, then why are they so affected by their new surroundings?
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What Made The Martian So Sick?
As Bobbie was told while preparing for her journey to Earth, "Earth's gravity is hell on the Martian physique." In fact, it's Earth's gravity that caused that Martian to throw up his Space Food Sticks all over the UN's driveway.
Earth's gravity is 1-G, which is much more than on Mars. While Martians do train at 1-G (most likely to prepare for a war on Earth), they aren't used to being under that amount of pressure all the time; especially when they're not wearing their space suits.
Shifts in gravity can cause "shunts" in the body— basically, the blood isn't receiving enough oxygen. A symptom of this is nausea. The Martians take preventative medication which apparently "boosts" oxygen in the blood; however, this isn't something that exists in real life— and it certainly didn't seem to help that particular Martian.
Why Can't They Walk Properly?
Another effect of the higher gravity levels is feeling literally weighed down. Remember Avasarala interrogating that Belter in Season 1? That was the effect of 1-G without the medication.
Neither Belters nor Martians are physically accustomed to Earth's gravity, which causes intense muscle fatigue. Their bones are also naturally less dense from growing up in lower-gravity environments, which means even walking can be a struggle— as was demonstrated when the Martians walked off their shuttle.
For the Martians, who are a fiercely proud nation, feeling constant physical pressure literally pushing down on them is an intense burden to handle; a reminder that the entire planet is looking down on them. And that really doesn't help their already-fierce rivalry with the Earthers.
What's With The Sunglasses?
Despite Bobbie's objections to wearing them, those sunglasses worn by the Martians outside are incredibly important. Much like the fogged-out windows in the hotel suite, they protect sensitive Martian eyes from the harsh levels of light on Earth. But why are they so necessary?
While Mars may not be constantly shrouded in darkness, it's the fourth planet from the sun— that's 1.5 times further away than Earth, the third planet. To an Earther, the light levels during a sunny day on Mars would be comparable to an overcast day on Earth. Now just imagine what a sunny day on Earth would feel like to a Martian.
Of course, this raises the question of Vitamin D. Despite their name, Martians are still human beings with the same biological needs as Earthers. So considering Mars' low light levels, wouldn't they be severely lacking in this essential vitamin?
Not exactly. This is where the difference between Belters and Martians becomes clear. While both must take measures to ensure their health and survival in their outer space environment, Martians have better access to much-needed pharmaceuticals and supplements than their poorer Belter neighbors. Vitamin D levels can be easily regulated with supplements— so long as you can get them.
Unfortunately, all the Vitamin D supplements in the world aren't going to fix eyes that aren't used to higher light levels. Let's hope Bobbie doesn't "forget" her sunglasses again!