The St Cross Centre for the History & Philosophy of Physics (HAPP) was delighted to welcome NASA Chief Scientist Dr Jim Green on 23 July 2021 to give a lecture on "The Martian - Science Fiction and Science Fact" to over 500 attendees online from around the world.
Dr Green gave an expansive review of the science behind Ridley Scott's award-winning film, The Martian, which was based on Andy Weir's bestselling book of the same title. He described how he was approached by Ridley before production started for information about NASA's plans for human exploration of Mars as well as the science of Mars in order to produce as accurate and realistic a film version as possible. Dr Green became the main science consultant on the film and together with NASA's Journey to Mars personnel, he collaborated over several months with the film design team on everything from habitats and Mars terrains to vehicles, spacesuits, ion engines and radioisotope power systems.
Dr Green went on to discuss the key dramatic scenes in the film, outlining the science which assured their accuracy and then moved onto NASA's plans for a future mission to send humans to Mars alongside the challenges to this.
In conclusion, he summarised several of the exciting prospects ahead in space travel to Mars with international collaboration across the major space agencies.
Live Q&A posted online throughout the event saw dozens of questions from members of the audience with Dr Green giving additional insights into the making of the film, future planned Mars missions, when a human might land on Mars and further details about the environment of the Red Planet. He closed the event with the hope that everyone might see a Martian blue sunset in the future!
A video of the lecture is now available here.