The Martian is NASA’s best ad in ages
The fragile nature of human existence and the challenges of space travel force us to find new homes in the solar system and the galaxy. We will eventually run out of resources on Earth and remain at a catastrophic event of extinction if we limit ourselves to a single planet. NASA, the US space agency, is leading humanity’s nascent space exploration programs, but a series of budget cuts continues to make its goals harder to achieve.
Faced with these constraints, it seems that NASA has found a new ally in its quest to publicize and educate people on the importance of space travel: Hollywood. Ridley Scott’s The Martian is the latest of these films to serve as a formidable publicity tool for NASA. Although the agency has worked with filmmakers since the 1990s, its latest efforts have been praised for their scientific precision without losing commercial appeal. Gravity, Interstellar and The Martian are three films released in as many years where NASA occupies a prominent place.
The Martian is unique among these three films, due to its timing. Nasa is currently working on a manned mission to Mars scheduled for the 2030s, and a film about a mission to Mars that shows Nasa going all out to save its astronaut will obviously generate a lot of interest in the project. Highlighting the human side of the mission, coupled with the fact that the main character of the film stays positive and retains his sense of humor even in the face of a crisis, makes it inspiring. Both Gravity and Interstellar have tried to be scientifically accurate and focused on the human side of space missions, but neither associates itself with planned NASA missions as well as The Martian.
Curiously, days before The Martian was released, NASA announced one of the biggest discoveries from its probes to Mars. Liquid water flows intermittently on Mars – that’s big news, even though the water is not fit for human consumption without purification.
The timing of the announcement is obviously coincidental, but Nasa wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to publicize the film or let the film generate publicity for its manned and unmanned missions to Mars. The agency posted two Tumblr posts – one about its Orion lander and how it will take humans to Mars and the similarities between The Martian and Nasa’s mission to Mars on the day the film was released. Both messages are simple enough for everyone to understand, further underscoring NASA’s efforts to expand its reach beyond the scientific community.
Cynics would say that these movies are starting to look like long advertisements for the US space agency. While there may be an element of truth to this, the films serve more as an illustrator of the challenges of space travel and introduced a whole generation of viewers to the thrill of exploring the final frontier. A surprisingly large number of people aren’t even aware of the need to invest in a space program and one can only hope movies like these will change that.
The one thing these three movies have in common is that they make NASA a cool and fun place to work, which might inspire many young people to pursue a career at the agency, or at least pique their interest in it. space, even science. in general. Investing in science and research is vital for progress and NASA is banking on these films to ensure that the general public thinks the same way.
In 1968, Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey did a terrific job of explaining the challenges of space travel and how astronauts adapt to zero-gravity environments. At the time, the space race between the USSR and the United States was in full swing and NASA had no funding constraints. It didn’t need any movie ties or publicity help, but if this movie were to be released tomorrow, you’d be sure to see the agency using it for publicity purposes. Times have changed and it’s good to see NASA adapt.
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