Open Channel: What’s Your Favorite Movie About Mars?

Much like Weir’s novel, The Martian is an unlikely mix of gearhead sci-fi and rousing adventure. They leave the planet to return to Earth, but Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) isn’t dead, as you know and the new movie “The Martian” and Director Ridley Scott take audiences through a brilliant and captivating story about survival. Rather than wait out the risk, the crew’s commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain) pulls the plug and aborts the mission.


Warning: Spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie. There isn’t a wasted performance in the bunch, from Jeff Daniels as NASA head honcho Teddy Sanders and Sean Bean as his greatest detractor Mitch Henderson (keep an ear out for an unbelievable Lord of the Rings callout) to Donald Glover as an eccentric astrophysicist and Kristen Wiig as a public relations worrywart. It lets them rise to their fullest potential, see how they can change the world of tomorrow and persevere as only few have before.

So how did Dr. Green, who has been director of the Planetary Science Division since 2006, get involved with the movie? But for his next trip to the stars, Scott has flipped the tagline on its head: In The Martian, everyone can hear you scream, and everyone wants to do something about it. On the next FRESH AIR, Terry Gross talks with Ramos about his conflict with Trump, his life and working as an immigrant journalist in the U.S. I hope you’ll join us. The conversation was all the science: ‘What about orbital trajectories?

Except… one of them isn’t.

Dr. Green has been at NASA since completing his PhD in Space Physics at the University of Iowa. “My chemistry teacher became the head of an observatory in Burlington, Iowa, and taught an astronomy class I attended after school”.

“I started at Marshall Space Flight Center, where I also developed NASA’s first Internet network, the ‘Space Physics Analysis Network'”. He brings a natural layman approach to the scientific preciseness required to explain everything, without having it ever feel dumbed down or totally incomprehensible.

And then Dr. Green caught a hacker. He’s a much better director than I am.

“I have no skill set to survive other than relating to other people and emoting”, Davis said, “but I did learn a lot about chemistry and math from people who could survive there.” So I said, ‘Don’t do that.

It’s like, a lot of people who aren’t real journalists, they’re bloggers – they’re either misinformed or lazy or incompetent, or just fishing for clicks. “Meanwhile, I was writing science papers, because that was my official job!” “We’ve had several casual meetings with NASA making the film”.

Watney is a botanist on the crew of Ares 3, the third manned mission to Mars. The film is based on the popular book by Andy Weir and provides many science based explanations of how he could live on the red planet.

The same thing happened after Goddard began collaborating with Scott. “Peer-to-peer science really transcends the political environment. It’s a ground-penetrating radar which will tell us about the layers under the rover and is an essential instrument for humans in the future, identifying where there’s an aquifer and so on”. The Martian is shot, designed, computer-generated, and scripted on a level that makes most films of its ilk look slipshod. “I’m a scientist”, he said.


Even if we are pretty sure we know the ending, we remain really curious how Watney is going to get there. Yet the picture’s respectful, if incidental, treatment of the subject continues to draw power from its own understatement. Even with the slightly boring Earth scenes, which I should stress are not all bad, there’s more than enough here to enjoy. “In hundreds of millions, maybe even a billion years”. NASA’s cooperation with Ridley Scott’s cast and crew has given it the gravitas it deserves.

The Martian's Jessica Chastain says spacesuit scenes were hell to shoot