• Question: how much of the film'the martian ' is real?

    Asked by ThePyroMatt to Vinita, Kirsty, Col Op, Charlie πŸš€, Andrea on 15 Jun 2016.
    • Photo: Andrea Boyd

      Andrea Boyd answered on 15 Jun 2016:


      A fair amount. We all went together (all the astronauts, astronaut trainers, eurocoms, space doctors and space engineers and scientists from my workplace) and watched it when it first came out in the cinema – so much fun.

      The storm at the start was unlikely to happen so fast and like that. The author knew this but he needed something to kick start the movie. There really are giant tornado dust storms though like you see in other scenes.

      The crew attitudes and interaction were very realistic and so was mission control. You can see everyone is calm, gets along and works together – they have disagreements but they back each other up for the big picture. In films like Gravity and Interstellar all the yelling and crying was ridiculous because those people would never have passed astronaut selection.

      You always see the same people on console in the mission control room – that’s so you know the characters for the film – in real life there are hundreds of mission controller so you would have different people on console. There is more than one flight director etc… πŸ˜‰

      It’s possible to use old landers like pathfinder to communicate with Earth if you replace the batteries.

      On Mars there’s much less gravity so you would walk funny – he walked and moved pretty normally in the film – it wouldn’t be like that in real life.

      Things can be grown in Martian soil if you mix it with the right other things – we have some simulations with that and have grown plants just fine.

      Martime law doesn’t apply on other planets – there are actual space laws for that – so sorry he’s not a space pirate πŸ˜‰

      He would have suffered a ridiculous amount of radiation being on Mars for a year and didn’t go underground or have special protection plus the radioisotope for heating… so I don’t think he would have lived for so long to be an old guy teaching at the end… he would have died of cancer.

      The habitat is really good. All of it – really really realistic. I’m not sure about sealing with duct tape when there was an explosion because it’s a good idea but wouldn’t really hold so well for such a pressure. Better to seal one of the internal hatches and just use a smaller overall habitat.

      The Mission Control and Space Agency scenes in China and at NASA were amazing and very real – the level of cooperation, how the teams worked, how the communications PR guys spoke a different ‘language’ to the engineers and how much pressure upper management is always under from politicians and the great connection of the flight director who fights for the crew etc – it was brilliant. The only not real part of that was their mega upgraded mission control centre!! In real life, NASA sadly doesn’t get that much funding. We can dream of working in a super futuristic mission control room that looks like that πŸ˜€

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