Spoiler warning: Potential spoilers for The Martian ahead.
NASA has taken to its blog to explain the science behind nine real NASA technologies featured in Ridley Scott’s new film The Martian.
Watney must survive on the Red Planet using technology left behind by a previous mission. The tech is based on science NASA is developing in real-life for future missions, such as manned missions to Mars in the mid-2030s.
For instance, Watney resides in a habitation module called the Hab. Crews in real-life train for long-duration deep space missions in the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA), a two-story, self-contained habitat.
As shown in the trailers, Watney also turns his Hab into a self-sustaining farm. Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) recently harvested and ate the first space-grown crop of food using a system called Veggie.
In The Martian, oxygen is produced using the Hab’s “oxygenator” that generates oxygen using the carbon dioxide from the Mars Ascent Vehicle fuel generator. Astronauts on the ISS produce oxygen with the Oxygen Generation System that uses a process called electrolysis. NASA is also researching ways to produce oxygen on Mars from byproducts in the atmosphere.
NASA is currently developing technologies to create a Martian spacesuit that would offer the similar flexibility and reliability demonstrated in Watney’s fictional suit. This includes the NASA’s new prototype spacesuits Z-2 and Prototype eXploration Suit.
The administration is developing a vehicle for astronauts to tear around on the surface of celestial bodies. similar to Watney’s heavily-modified Martian rover. NASA’s work-in-progress Multi-Mission Space Exploration Vehicle (MMSEV) sports six pivoting wheels and can keep rolling when it gets a flat tire by lifting up the offending wheel.
NASA’s post also details the technology behind its Orion spacecraft, water recovery, oxygen generation, ion propulsion, solar panels and radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs).
Actor Matt Damon recently explained to IGN why The Martian is a love letter to science and how he first became involved with the film. The Martian will be released this October.
Jenna Pitcher is a freelance journalist writing for IGN. You can follow her on Twitter.