The Martian: A Reality?


With all the attention Mars has been getting lately, and the great scientific work that is helping us understand more about the cold deserted Red Planet, more and more people are learning about the exciting discoveries taking place. However, it is not only the science world that is interested in the planet; this is also taking place in the entertainment world, especially with the massive success of The Martian. Viewers who saw the movie got an imaginative portrayal of what being on Mars could be like.

The Martian is based on a novel that was published in 2011 by Andy Weir; it revolves around Mark Watney, a botanist who becomes an astronaut and ends up being stranded on Mars, when his fellow crew members mistakenly leave him behind. Thinking he was dead, they eventually hear from him again. How? Well, you should watch the movie to find out or take a little peak at the trailer if you have not already:



So, what do you do when you get stranded on Mars? Well, if this was to take place in the present day, watch this video for a detailed look on how the Martian atmosphere will impact your body; a little heads-up, you will not last too long:


However, in the distant future that the Martian is set in, Mark Watney was able to make do with what equipment and resources left behind with him. Through his resourcefulness and pure ingenuity, he was able to grow food and sustain himself in one of the most uninhabitable atmospheres known to mankind.

There are, however, some inaccuracies in the movie, one of which is the occurrence of a windy dust storm that would not be realistic in the Martian atmosphere, since it has a thin atmosphere. The movie also does not correctly address the radiation issue, since Mars has a depleted atmosphere and no magnetic field to shield it from solar flares and sun bursts; simply walking around on the Martian surface would expose anyone to a great deal of damaging radiation.

How realistic is the idea itself? Will people ever make it to Mars? As of now, NASA has a broad strategy to get people to Mars; yet, there is no funding allocated to this mission and there are no detailed action plans put in place to actually achieve this. What is happening at the International Space Station is that scientists are in the process of studying ways of creating space crafts that would be able to withstand the journey and there are many obstacles and challenges facing them.

One such challenge would be the radiation that will affect the spacecraft and how to make it a habitable place for the astronauts. Another issue that must be studied at great length is the health-related issues that will be caused by being enclosed in a weightless environment for months, if not years, and how to ensure that astronauts do not lose their abilities to move. Much medical research need to be done before any concrete plans for a manned Mars mission to become a reality.

Some scientists are suggesting putting astronauts in deep sleep for some of the duration of the trip, if not for all of it, in order to decrease the energy that will need to be expended or consumed. For more on this novel idea, check out this video:

Interested to learn more about the possibilities of manned missions to Mars? Check out the following videos:



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SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
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