What is Mars Really Like: An Evaluation of Ridley Scott’s The Martian
Leal Ridley Scott’s “The Martian” first premiered on October 2, 2019 in movie theaters all across the United States. The film features an account of NASA astronaut, Mark Watney being stranded alone on planet Mars after his crew blasted off back to Earth during a severe storm thinking Mark had died after being hit by a piece of heavy equipment. While trying to survive alone on Mars waiting for a rescue mission, Mark performs many unrealistic tasks in the technological, vegetation, and sanitary categories.
After hundreds of days without any form of human communication Mark is finally able to reach and communicate with NASA using the “Hexadecimal” system to signal he is alive and healthy. After he does that he is able to find a new, more effective way to communicate with NASA representatives using a keyboard and a screen that works like today’s modern text messaging systems receiving them instantly, but this couldn’t be farther from reality. The weather on Mars is very extreme and experiences many “powerful dust storms, which can sometimes shroud the entire planet after just a few days. Though these storms probably wouldn’t physically harm you, the dust could clog electronics and interfere with solar-powered instruments, Vasavada said.” which would make it very difficult for mark to communicate in a timely manner as the unpredictable weather could damage the hexadecimal system which took place outside as it needed a lot of space to perform. Also he and NASA would not be able to communicate as quickly as in the movie when he started using the keyboard and screen methods because “a message sent home to Earth would take an average of 15 minutes to get there.”.
While on Mars and realizing that his current food supply is not going to last him forever, Mark decides to start a farm in his shelter by planting and growing potatoes, by gathering soil, using feces as fertilizer, and performing a chemical reaction to make water for the plants. The problem is not that the gravity on Mars is different from Earth but instead that Mars does not have a strong enough magnetic field to block out radiation. The high amounts of radiation on the planet’s surface would create a major problem for fertilization as the potatoes he is growing are in radiation filled soil. Another problem that would arise would be the lack of sunlight that his potatoes are receiving. Mark is forced to grow the potatoes inside his pressure filled shelter as if he tried to grow them outside they would instantly die but that means that they are not getting the amount of natural sunlight that is needed with the radiation shielding.
After getting left behind by his crew, Mark awoke alone outside in the Mars soil with his space suit punctured by a metal rod attached to a satellite dish, but thankfully the rod and hardened blood was enough to seal the suit keeping him alive and breathing until he awoke. Once awake he realized his oxygen tank was running low so he cut the rod from the satellite and went to his shelter to perform surgery on himself. The surgery itself as actually very realistic based on the limited supplies and time he has but the problem is that the he stapled the large wound, and with time the staples would come out exposing the wound. The exposed wound but have a very high chance of getting an infection as he was not able to shower for 549 sols which is equivalent to 564 Earth days. With no way for him to clean himself its is very unrealistic how he did not get infected as he would be sweating large amounts or full with dirt from the very unpredictable weather on Mars.
Overall, the movie is really good and provides a good representation of how life might be like on Mars once NASA launches their first mission to explore the deserted red planet, but the movie is just lacking realism in the technological, vegetation, and sanitary aspects.
- Castro, Joseph. What Would It Be Like to Live on Mars? Space.com, Space, 17 Feb. 2015, www.space.com/28557-how-to-live-on-mars.html.
- Lemonick, Michael. What It’s Like to Go to Mars. Time, Time, 30 May 2013, science.time.com/2013/05/30/what-its-like-to-travel-to-mars/.
- Scott, Ridley, director. The Martian. Performance by Matt Damon, 2015.
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