The Martian, starring Matt Damon as Mark Watney and directed by the legendary Ridley Scott, centres around a NASA astronaut that gets stranded on Mars after his crew mates believe him to be dead.

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He immediately realises that its going to be tough to get himself home alive, you know because he is on a different planet and all that. Even though the movie takes place 20 years into the future, a lot of the NASA tech and science referenced in the movie actually exists in real life, making the truth truly stranger (and cool) than fiction. Here are 5 NASA technologies that are featured in The Martian that already exist today:

Rover

The whole point of space exploration is exploring the unknown. Rovers was the main form of transport in The Martian and it is likely it will be the same in real life.

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NASA’s version is called MMSEV (Multi-Mission Space Exploration Vehicle) and it is built to travel on anything from red dust to asteroid. It is made to last and withstand anything.

The Hab

The Hab is where Matt Damon’s character, Mark lives while he awaits rescue. A controlled habitation is essential for survival on desolate planets like Mars and NASA has its own version of The Hab, dubbed HERA. Astronauts in training spend 20 days in this controlled habitation to prepare them for future missions.

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Mars Spacesuit

The first thing you basically always need before you go to space is a space suit, otherwise you die and never get see the beautiful views.

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Also Mars isn’t great for human survival so NASA has been working on prototype suits Z-2 and Prototype eXploration Suit that could be used by astronauts going to mars.

Oxygen Generator

Oxygen is one of those things you never notice until it’s gone. We humans are completely reliant on the stuff. In the movie oxygen is created by an Oxygenator located in The Hub.

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The International Space Station has the Oxygen Generation System which recycles the oxygen in the Station through a process called electrolysis, which splits water molecules into their component oxygen and hydrogen atom.

Solar Panels

Mars doesn’t come with its own Eskom (thank god) so you have to make your own electricity. In The Martian everything from the spacecrafts to the coffee machine to the Rover is powered by solar panels. It makes perfect sense and it is also relatively easy to use, requires no additional labour after set up and is renewable.

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The International Space Station has four sets of solar panels that generate enough electricity to power 40 homes (84 – 120 kilowatts of energy). Again, the system is very reliable and renewable and has been powering the International Space Station for since 2000. Solar energy is also one of the safest ways to generate electricity in space as Mark Watney in The Martian even says “NASA hates fire“.

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