5 ‘Martian’ miscues to fix in future space flicks

Scene from "The Martian"
Astronaut Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon) climbs through a hatch in his pressurized rover in a scene from “The Martian.” (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.)

LOS ANGELES — Planetary scientist Pascal Lee could give astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson a good run for his money when it comes to truth-squadding movie depictions of space missions.

For almost two decades, Lee has been working on the tools and techniques that will be needed for future Mars expeditions, as the leader of the Haughton-Mars Project on Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic. The project, funded by NASA, the SETI Institute and other institutions, provides an earthy analog to the Red Planet’s bleak, cold, dry, isolated environment.

Astronauts could conceivably set up shop on Mars sometime in the next decade or two, and there could be a crewed base on the moon even before that. So Lee says it’s high time for Hollywood to provide a more accurate picture of how such missions would work.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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