The Martian

The Martian (2015)

7 suggested corrections

(7 votes)

Factual error: After Watney patches the blow out of one of the HAB's airlocks with plastic sheeting, tie down straps, and duct tape, he pressurizes the HAB and the plastic sheeting pushes out like an inflated balloon. Assuming the plastic and duct tape would hold this is correct, however the plastic would be much more taut given the pressure difference inside and outside.

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Suggested correction: The plastic would certainly be flexing in and out because of the pressure of the wind gusts during the storm. We saw earlier that the gusts of the storms were strong enough to blow a suited explorer off their feet and push them across the surface. Let's say that the HAB is pressurized as much as it can be without blowing out of the plastic, tape, and bungees sealing the airlock. A storm gust would still be able to push the flexible plastic in momentarily, and it would pop back out after the gust passed.

The movie took liberties with the physics of Mars. The gusts on Mars wouldn't be able to blow over a person or a spaceship, let alone push them across the surface, but they needed it for the plot. But using the same physics they then have wedded themselves to, it could then be strong enough to cause the plastic to flap, even though in real life it wouldn't. This is more of a deliberate mistake than a factual error since the writers certainly knew what they did didn't match reality.

Except they didn't 'wed' themselves to their fictional physics. Towards the end of the film NASA tells Watney that a flimsy plastic covering on his ascent vehicle will not be dislodged on acceleration to Martian escape velocity because the atmosphere is too thin to cause any problems. That's cheating in anyone's books.

Factual error: Lewis replaces Beck on the EVA to rescue Watney. On a NASA mission, each crewman is a specialist in several areas. While all of the crew have trained on EVA, Beck is the specialist for Ares III meaning he practiced EVA protocol and maneuvers 2-3 times as much as any other crew member. So while it is a nice dramatic moment for Lewis to replace him, a real mission commander would trust the best trained personnel to do their jobs, as she is actually lowering the chances of success by replacing Beck.

Grumpy Scot

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Suggested correction: The Hermes missions are much more long term than any current NASA missions. In this fictional future, we have no evidence that Beck is the only one qualified enough to carry out this rescue. Additionally, Lewis has the emotional connection, having been the one to instruct them to leave Watney on Mars.

Factual error: Towards the end of the film Watney is told to discard the heavy nose cone of the Martian Ascent Vehicle and replace it with a flimsy plastic sheet because the atmosphere is so thin that it will not be damaged despite the vehicle being accelerated to Martian escape velocity - nearly 14,000 kmh. But the storm caused massive damage earlier. It cannot work both ways - if the atmosphere is so thin that it won't dislodge a jury rigged plastic canopy from an accelerating spacecraft, it cannot possibly whip up a storm like the one we see.


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Suggested correction: Mars' atmosphere works very differently than Earth's. Near the surface, there are often heavy storms and winds. But go up near the edge of the atmosphere, it's drastically thinner. Earth's atmosphere doesn't differ THAT much; your logic would make sense for Earth. However, for Mars' atmosphere, the movie was accurate.

Absolute rubbish. It is a well established fact that the atmospheric pressure on Mars is 610 pascals, 1% of that on Earth. A 170 kmh wind storm on Mars (specified in the film) would be like a gentle, 18kmh breeze on earth. There is absolutely no way that a storm like the one we see at the beginning of the film could occur on Mars. The storm would barely scatter small pebbles about, let alone throw a spacesuited human body around. As for the atmosphere on Earth not differing form that on Mars... good grief, are you serious? Anyway, don't take my word for it. "No, it's not accurate!" Goddard cheerfully informed us (The Radio Times). "It's the one big buy of the movie, that because of the atmosphere, or lack thereof, Mars would never have a storm that big. But if we didn't do it, we wouldn't have a movie. It sort of kicks off the movie." You think Mr Goddard would be in a good position to comment. He wrote the screenplay.

You need to take the thickness of Mars' atmosphere into consideration.

Plot hole: Rich Purnell started his calculations that required the Hermes to dock with the Tieyang Shen well before Teddy, the Director of NASA, found out about the confidential information about the Tieyang Shen even having enough fuel to be the booster.

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Suggested correction: I don't think that is correct. When he first comes up with the idea to reroute the Hermes back to Mars he was thinking about/ working on the calculations for the original probe before it blew up.

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Suggested correction: It is possible Martinez brought more than one cross and the one Mark is holding while lying down isn't the one he was whittling just before.

Continuity mistake: Before planting the potatos he has to bring dirt into the HAB. The dirt on Mars is red due to high iron content. When we go to an inside view of the same dirt it's brown like here on earth.

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Suggested correction: He mixed it with the poop (which is usually brown) from himself and all the other astronauts.

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Other mistake: When Matt Damon is brought back onto the Hermes, he is surrounded by his crewmates who are not in spacesuits. All air from the Hermes outside the control room had been expelled by the explosion, and could not have been replaced in the recovery time frame.

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Suggested correction: The first priority would have been to only replenish the air in the corridors leading from the bridge to the airlock, since these are the 2 locations the crew need access to. They did not need to replace all the air in the ship at once, just a relatively small area.

Other mistake: During the storm scene in the beginning of the movie, the astronauts' faces inside the helmets are brightly lit, meaning there's a light source pointed directly in their face. That's something that would render them mostly blind and unable to see and appears to be nothing but a dramatic effect for the camera. (00:05:00 - 00:08:00)

More mistakes in The Martian

Mark Watney: I don't want to come off as arrogant here, but I'm the best botanist on the planet.

More quotes from The Martian

Trivia: The secret project created to use the Hermes to return to Mars to rescue Watney was called Project Elrond, a reference from the Lord of the Rings (also used in the original book of The Martian). Mitch Henderson, played by Sean Bean, was an attendee at the Project Elrond meeting. Sean Bean also played Boromir, who was an attendee at the Council of Elrond in the LOTR movie.


More trivia for The Martian

Question: Why would NASA decide to send a botanist on a mission to Mars? A planet where no plants can grow.

Answer: Part of his job, aside from also being a mechanical engineer, was to use soil taken from Earth to Mars, mix it with Martian soil then grow seeds in it to see how Martian soil is for growing crops. This would be preparing for a longer term mission where growing full crops to feed the crew would be part of the mission.

Answer: Botanists going to mars can study the ground and the dirt so they could make life on mars. Botanists are also helpful due to oxygen in space, he grows plants on the spacecraft for the oxygen that they give off.

More questions & answers from The Martian

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