Ridley Scott’s The Martian is this century’s equivalent of Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon (1902). Both films feature humans setting foot on another world time when the technology for such a feat didn’t exist. When the first man landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, it lacked the aliens or natives in extravagant outfits found in A Trip to the Moon but the concept of traveling to the moon was no longer confined to the film. Similar A Trip to the Moon, The Martian depicts scientific feats that are not possible with today’s technology but unlike A Trip to the Moon is closed to being realized. Based off of Andy Weir’s novel of the same name, The Martian will follow Mark Watney (Matt Damon) an astronaut who is stranded on Mars after his crew, believing that he died during a storm, returns to Earth. Now Mark must use the resources he has left to survive on Mars until he can be rescued. While the story is a work of fiction, the concept of getting men to Mars may soon be possible.
At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, a panel was held describing the efforts NASA is making so that men could exist on Mars like in The Martian. The panel was described in Anna Kaufman’s article for collider.com entitled “We Will Be Martians: The Real NASA Science Behind Ridley Scott’s The Martian”. According to NASA’s planetary science director Victor Green, NASA has a rover on Mars called Curiosity that is investigating what happened to the water on Mars. NASA has plans to launch more robots to Mars with an InSight mission launching next year featuring the launch of a lander as well as the Mars 2020 rover, which will bring an oxygenator to Mars designed to convert Mars’ toxic CO2 into oxygen.
Because of the efforts of NASA and Mars One, human life on Mars may someday no longer be confined to works of fiction. The fact that such scientific efforts coincide with The Martian, serve as an example of how technology can eventually catch up or make efforts towards what was presented in science fiction. The closeness human colonization of Mars close to being realized raises the question of what other works of science fiction will be realized someday. Will a voyage through a black hole be attempted like in Interstellar? Will ships be able to travel through space at light-speed through built in technology similar to the hyperdrive in Star Wars or will warp stations be developed that can send rockets traveling through light-years of space similar to the mass relays from the Mass Effect games? Perhaps now such feats seem far off and out of reach but if The Martian shows anything is that fiction can become reality.