‘The Martian’, the up-coming science fiction film that has been praised by many, is in fact quite accurate as it closely follows NASA’s protocol, experts say.
The new film, ‘The Martian’, is directed by Ridley Scott and stars Matt Daemon as Mark Watney, the main character in the film. It tells the story of NASA astronaut Mark Watney, who, during a manned mission to Mars, is presumed dead after a violent storm and left behind by his crew. Mark eventually becomes stranded on Mars.
Apart from the amazing technology, the film also concentrates on the effects that long-term isolation have on human psychology. After being separated from everyone, Mark is now forced to survive entirely on his own, by using all of the resources he can find.
Watney’s isolation is actually seen as an opportunity and it shows how trying to stay positive can help you through tough times.
When NASA trains the astronauts for long-term missions, it uses a Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA). Located at the Johnson Space Center in Texas, the Human Exploration Research Analog is a habitat which simulates conditions that may occur on long-term space missions. It focuses on the psychological and physiological effects of confinement.
The HAB (habitation module) that appears in the film, the one on Earth at Mission Control (which is the test version), as well as the one on Mars, is almost identical to the Human Exploration Research Analog at the Johnson Space Center.
Real manned missions to Mars are set to launch in 2030. NASA is now looking at how long-term missions can have an impact on groups, and at the same time, on individuals. According to NASA, a manned mission to Mars could take up to two to three years.
In order to test the effects of long-term isolation on the emotional health, Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail and NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly went on a one year mission at the International Space Station. So far, the conclusions are that spending a lot of time in space can negatively impact the astronauts’ performance. NASA wants to minimize these effects as much as possible.
Jason King, an aerospace engineer at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, said that a very important asset that an astronaut could have would be a great sense of humour. That way, conflicts with others could be easily diffused.
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