Following a flurry of news about NASA's plans on Mars, the new Matt Damon movie "The Martian" hit theaters. These scientists describe what was realistic and what was nonsense in the film.
Ridley Scott’s blockbuster about the first manned journey to Mars starring Matt Damon may go down as one of the luckiest release dates in movie history – it came out the same week that NASA announced the discovery of evidence of liquid water on the planet Mars. According to a report from the Guardian, despite making a few technical errors, the film paints a surprisingly accurate picture of what a trip to Mars might actually look like.
One of the first blunders in “The Martian” comes in the scene where the landing crew faces a devastating windstorm. In reality, the atmosphere of Mars is roughly 1 percent as dense as that on Earth. Winds reaching 100mph on Mars would only have the same amount force as a 10mph breeze on Earth.
The elaborate spaceship in the movie was also slightly overdone, an obvious move to appeal to Hollywood audiences. In reality, the spaceship that takes the first humans to Mars will likely be as small as possible to conserve fuel.
The gravity on Mars is also much weaker than that of Earths. In the film, astronauts can be seen walking around on the surface as if they weighed the same on the Red Planet as they did at home. In reality, a Martian astronaut would weight about one third of their previous weight on Earth.
Matt Damon’s character came up with a shockingly complex method of making water once he reached Mars. He took hydrazine from the spaceship’s fuel and split it into hydrogen and nitrogen, and burned the hydrogen with oxygen to produce water. For future astronauts, finding water on Mars may be as simple as wringing it out from the soil, which is made of about 5 percent H2O.
There are a number of other scientific blunders in the film, but overall it does a good job of exciting the public about space exploration. Nobody know s for sure when humans will first land on Mars, but more and more people are beginning to follow NASA’s progress.