NASA Unveils the Existing Technologies Featured in “The Martian” Film

NASA Unveils the Existing Technologies Featured in “The Martian” Film 1 photo
Photo: NASA
Andy Weir is a former computer programmer who has a considerable interest in Mars. In his spare time, he’d write a serial about an NASA astronaut living on the Red Planet. That great was his story it turned into a novel that was later adapted into a movie set to premiere in October. It may be fiction, but it’s based on factual narratives about Mars and the Agency’s work.
And that is the exact point NASA wants to make. “The Martian” merges the fictional and factual narratives about Mars, building upon the work the agency and other space researchers have done exploring Mars and moving it forward into the 2030s. The plot shows the world where NASA astronauts are regularly traveling to the Red Planet and living on the surface to explore.

In case you haven’t seen the trailer, you should know that most of the things envisioned in the film seem quite real and, most important, possible. Believe it or not, according to NASA, they actually are, as the agency is developing many of the technologies that appear in the film, and even using some already.

For instance, the lead character is living in a habitation module (the Hab), a thing we’d call a house on Mars. According to NASA, it’s not just fiction, as scientists are already working on something similar. It’s called HERA, and it’s a safe-contained environment that simulates a deep-space habit. The two-story structure is complete with living quarters, workspaces, a hygiene module and a simulated airlock.

There’s another important aspect of life on Mars that The Martian has solved, growing food on another planet. While in the movie the main character turns the Hab into a self-sustaining farm, there’s a similar deployable fresh food production system on the International Space Station, called Veggie. Moreover, in 2014, astronauts used the system to grow “Outredgeous” red romaine lettuce and just recently sampled this space-grown crop for the first time.

These are just some of the technologies currently on different levels of research and development. Oxygen Generation, a Mars Spacesuit, and the already-famous Mars Rover are also part of the bigger picture.

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