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‘The Martian’: 5 Things It Got Right & Wrong About Living On Mars

Sat, October 3, 2015 3:20pm EDT by Avery Thompson 1 Comment

‘The Martian’ is taking over the box office, but there are questions that need to be answered. Could Mark Watney even have survived on Mars? Here are 5 things that the movie got right and wrong about living on the Red Planet.

Everyone is going crazy over The Martian, but is the movie’s journey on Mars pure fiction? From walking around on Mars to the weather, here are 5 things that could totally happen and could never happen on the fourth planet from the sun.


1. Can you grow food on Mars?

Most likely. “In terms of basic mineral content and chemical content, yes it would be possible to grow plants in Martian soil,” Dave Lavery, Program Executive for Solar System Exploration at NASA and a consultant for the film, told IFLScience. “We actually have experiments going on right now using simulated Mars soil, and it indicates that’s a very realistic idea.”

2. Can you walk around on Mars like you can on Earth?

Not so much. Mars’ gravity is 38 percent of Earth’s, so that changes things. “You could set world records in the long jump and high jump, but you’re not going to bound off into space accidentally,” says Rick Sachleben, a research fellow in chemical development for Momenta Pharmaceuticals, told the New York Post.

3. Would a dust storm be that dangerous?

This one is a definite no. “Dust storms certainly do occur on Mars, they get winds in excess of 100 mph (160 km/h),” Dave told IFLScience. “But a 100 mph wind on Mars, because the atmosphere is so thin, has the same inertia and dynamic pressure down at the surface as about an 11 mph (18 km/h) wind on Earth. It’s not going to have the sort of energy to move large objects the way that is portrayed in the book and the film.”

4. Can someone communicate with Earth if stranded on Mars?

It’s definitely possible, IFLScience reports. The Pathfinder spacecraft was launched in 1996. The batteries gave out, but if they were replaced, one could use the probe to communicate back to Earth like Mark did in the movie.

5. How long would it take to get back to Mars? 

In the movie, it takes 8 months before Mark can be rescued. In reality, it would take that long to go from Earth to Mars on a human mission. Since Mars and Earth’s orbits aren’t perfectly circular, it would take between 6 to 8 months to get there, according to Mars-One.com.

HollywoodLifers, have you seen The Martian? What did you think? Let us know!

— Avery Thompson