Interesting Facts: ‘The Martian’

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.

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  1. In the comments people say give more of the military budget to NASA to get a man on Mars. Fair enough, but I`d rather spend it on the sky city project on Venus. Venus is much closer, it has a core and it has an atmosphere, unlike Mars. the only downside is that we can`t actually land on Venus, but, with the sky city project we can build a city in Venus`clouds where the pressure is more like on earth.


  2. humans are explorers. Money shouldn't be an issue since we have multiple space agencies around the world. I would LOVE to go to mars for a no return for a while since science needs to be done for long periods of time not less than 6 months.

  3. Good movie but I didn't like the Hollywood style helmet lighting (it would blind the sight of the astronaut) and the airlock explosion to slow down the spaceship. The decelleration wouldn't be that big (astronauts jolt in seats, highly unlikely) and if it did, the decelleration would have damaged the whole ship as the extending parts like the solar panels and the 1g wheel. Also a weak point in the story is the supply ship that has enough fuel to take off again. Why would you have a supply ship doing that? Most stuff on a mission is one way, only vessels for personal transport need to go up again.

  4. A manned mission is essential! Much of the technologies developed in those efforts would provide enourmous dividends down here on Earth. What is developing a Martian human habitat, but learning to live off the grid (with many more factors in play of course)? We face a large list of issues confronting us here, what we learn on expeditions like this will pay off way more in ways we can't imagine, even if all we do when we get there is kick our feet up (which of course we wouldn't).

    Great book, can't wait to see the movie (yes, I'm behind the times).

  5. I have seen the movie, and was quite entertaining, but the escape at the end was a bit unrealistic. And I am always surprised that cables and connectors of a spacecraft sent there decades ago, seems to fit perfectly on the new stuff. And then be able to hack into the curiosity's computer that hasn't been working for decades..weird to say the least.

  6. useless , why ??
    We can't live there !!
    Radiation !!! no water , no atmosphere
    Maybe we should look farther in space and find a way to get there fast … there are some ''earth like'' planets out there .
    out of our reach that is… but lets waste our time and money in that !! not a dead planet where was life once !! how can we travel into a wormhole and come back safe … how can we keep the hole open ??? These kinda things !! couse our solar system has NOTHING that is in our advantage except maybe for learning new things …. but they can never be a second earth !

  7. In the book, it was hilarious how Watney described his terrible luck the morning after getting hit by the flying debris. I find it even funnier seeing on live film. It's kinda mean to laugh at that subject, I know.. But there are like 2 other astronauts who managed to evade the debris and then boom, there's Mark.

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