The Science of "THE MARTIAN" Movie

 "THE MARTIAN" Movie Science

The movie "The Martian" strives to depict a realistic portrayal of space exploration and survival on Mars. While some artistic liberties were taken for the sake of storytelling, the movie incorporates scientific principles and concepts that align with our current understanding of Mars and space travel.

  1. Mars Environment: climate of Mars: "The Martian" portrays the inhospitable Martian environment, which includes the planet's dreadful temperatures, low atmosphere, and dusty landscape. These characteristics are based on what science has taught us about Mars, a planet with an atmosphere that is much thinner than Earth's and a surface temperature that is subject to large fluctuations.

  2. Mars Habitat: The film showcases a habitat, called the Hab, where the main character, Mark Watney, resides. The design of the habitat takes inspiration from current NASA plans and concepts for potential future Mars missions. It features airlocks, life support systems, and a controlled environment to provide the necessary resources for survival.

  3. Growing Food: Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon, grows food on Mars to sustain himself. He uses his skills as a botanist to cultivate plants using Martian soil, water, and a controlled atmosphere. While the process is simplified in the movie, the concept of growing food in space or on other planets is an area of active research by space agencies like NASA.

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  5. Ion Propulsion: In the movie, the spacecraft Hermes uses ion propulsion for interplanetary travel. Ion propulsion is a real technology that utilizes charged particles (ions) to generate thrust. While the depiction in the movie is exaggerated, ion propulsion is a more fuel-efficient option compared to traditional chemical rockets and is being explored for future deep space missions.

  6. Gravity: "The Martian" accurately represents the lower gravity on Mars compared to Earth. The characters experience reduced gravity, which affects their movements and behavior. However, the movie does not delve into the physiological and long-term effects of living in reduced gravity.

It's crucial to remember that, despite the fact that "The Martian" integrates a lot of scientific realism, it does make some dramatic storytelling decisions. Despite this, the movie has aroused interest in Mars exploration and brought attention to the difficulties and opportunities associated with sending humans to the Red Planet.


In "The Martian," a crucial story development revolves around a catastrophic storm on Mars that forces the Ares III mission to be abandoned and leads to the assumption that astronaut Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon, has passed away. Let's discuss about the movie's depiction of the storm.

Martian Dust Storms: Dust storms are a real phenomenon on Mars. The planet experiences frequent and sometimes intense dust storms due to its thin atmosphere and the presence of fine dust particles on the surface. The movie accurately depicts the existence of dust storms on Mars.

  1. Amplification of the Storm: In the movie, the dust storm that impacts the Ares III mission is portrayed as unexpectedly intense and violent. While dust storms on Mars can be powerful, it is unlikely that they would reach the level of intensity depicted in the film. The portrayal of the storm's severity is exaggerated for dramatic effect and to drive the narrative of the story.

  2. Danger to the Crew: In the movie, the crew is attempting to flee the planet when they are endangered by the storm. The severity of the storm and the falling debris put their lives in immediate risk. The precise dangers portrayed in the film, like as the breach of the astronaut's suit, are fictionalized for dramatic effect. Martian dust storms can be dangerous due to decreased visibility and the potential for equipment damage.


Based on current knowledge of Mars and its gravitational field, the depiction of gravity in the film "The Martian" is fairly accurate. Here is how the movie portrays gravity:

Martian Gravity: Mars has a weaker gravitational pull compared to Earth. The movie accurately represents the lower gravity on Mars, which is about 38% of Earth's gravity. This lower gravity is depicted when the characters move, walk, and interact with objects on the Martian surface. Their movements are lighter and more buoyant compared to what we would observe on Earth.

  1. Effects on Human Physiology: The lower gravity on Mars has implications for human physiology. In the movie, the characters experience reduced muscle and bone density due to the extended duration spent in space and on Mars. This reflects the real-life challenge of long-duration space missions and the need for countermeasures to mitigate the effects of reduced gravity on the human body.

  2. Interplanetary Travel: The effects of micro-gravity on the crew of the spaceship throughout the trip to and from Mars are not specifically discussed in the film. The crew is anticipated to experience microgravity during the passage, comparable to what astronauts do on the International Space Station (ISS) or on space shuttle flights. However, the Martian atmosphere and the difficulties the main character faces there are what the film focuses on most.

Overall, "The Martian" portrays the reduced gravity of Mars accurately and incorporates the potential physiological effects on human astronauts. While some details may be simplified or dramatized for storytelling purposes, the movie provides a generally realistic depiction of gravity in a Mars-based setting.


  1. Hydrogen Extraction: Mark Watney uses the "Sabatier reaction" to generate water. He explains that he will combine hydrogen (obtained from the fuel supply of the Hab) with the Martian atmosphere's carbon dioxide (CO2) using a catalyst to produce water (H2O) and methane (CH4). This chemical reaction is based on real chemistry and is known as the Sabatier process, which is a common method for producing water and methane from CO2 and hydrogen.

  2. Oxygen Generation: The byproduct of the Sabatier reaction in the movie is methane. Mark Watney then uses a separate process called "burning the hydrazine" to liberate the hydrogen from the methane and releases it back into the atmosphere. The hydrogen is used to replenish the Hab's oxygen supply by combining it with the stored oxygen. While the specific method portrayed in the movie is fictionalized, the idea of generating oxygen through chemical reactions is a viable concept.

It's important to note that the movie simplifies the process of water production on Mars for narrative purposes. The actual challenges and complexities of extracting and generating water on Mars are still areas of ongoing research and technological development. Future Mars missions would likely require more advanced and efficient systems for extracting water from Martian resources, such as underground ice or atmospheric moisture.

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