Interesting facts about ‘The Martian,’ a critically acclaimed science fiction movie starring Matt Damon that tells the story of a NASA astronaut who gets stranded on Mars.
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Legendary director Ridley Scott’s film “The Martian” has received high praise. In it, NASA astronaut Mark Watney, a botanist and mechanical engineer, is left for dead on Mars when the rest of his crew is forced to evacuate their landing site after being hit with an intense dust storm. Alone, Watney must then struggle to survive. These are interesting facts about ‘The Martian.’
It’s an adaptation of a novel by author Andy Weir. It’s actually the first book Weir’s ever written. In fact, Weir self-published ‘The Martian’ for free on his own blog. As it grew popular, after people started requesting he make it downloadable, Weir eventually made it available on Amazon for just $0.99.
It’s been described as Apollo 13 meets Castaway, but Weir says he “wanted it to be more MacGyver on Mars.”
The film’s screenwriter, Drew Goddard — who also wrote and directed the awesome horror comedy “The Cabin in the Woods” — called it a “love letter to science.” That’s because The Martian’ puts a science nerd front and center as the film’s protagonist; and the filmmakers consulted NASA to be as technically and scientifically accurate as possible. This resulted in 50 pages of the script being NASA material.
Portraying NASA on screen isn’t easy. Not only does the filmmaker have to obtain permission, but NASA must also be shown that the movie is taking the subject matter seriously, and representing the truth.
The mission to Mars in the film emulates actual missions NASA is working on.
‘The Martian’ builds on the momentum and filmmaking techniques of the two other recent space-oriented smash-hits ‘Gravity’ and ‘Interstellar’, and, like Sandra Bullock’s Dr. Ryan Stone in ‘Gravity,’ focuses on a single, isolated character for much of the runtime.
Filming took place in the red colored desert in Wadi Rum, Jordan. Scenes were also shot in Budapest, Hungary on 20 sets built on one of the world’s largest sound stages. 20 sets isn’t even actually that many…by comparison, Ridley Scott used 70 sets on Exodus and over 100 on American Gangster.
The spacesuits in the film use a very complex lighting system that is actually fully functional. A lot of the research on these suits was done while developing his previous sci-fi thriller Prometheus.
The average surface temperature on Mars is a frigid -63°C, compared to the 14 degrees celsius average on Earth. The length of a Martian day is very similar to Earth at 24 hours, 37 minutes. But the length of a Martian year is nearly twice as long, at 687 days.
Mars’ surface gravity is 62% lower than here on Earth. So a person who weighs 220 lbs on Earth would weigh only 83 lbs on Mars, but Scott chose not to depict this gravitational difference, finding the effort less worthwhile to put on screen than the zero-gravity scenes in the film he did include.
Despite all its effort at accuracy, the movie didn’t get everything right. The dust storm that strands Watney on the red planet couldn’t have occurred in real life because the air on Mars is too thin.
Still, the film looks fantastic, and it should be one of those rare blockbusters that is perfectly timed to both entertain the public and help us make an important policy decision. Because the science is pretty much there to send humans to Mars, now we must ask ourselves: are the rewards of a manned mission worth the potential risks…and the enormous cost?
Let me know in a comment below what you thought of “The Martian” and a manned mission to Mars, like this video if you learned a thing or two you didn’t know before, and, as usual, thanks for watching.