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The Martian: Nasa unveils real-life photos from locations in hit film

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has provided stunning images of the planet’s surface, depicting landing sites from the film and volcano-like mounds Blockbuster movie The Martian has inspired Nasa to release photos showing real-life locations from the film on the Red Planet. Two landing sites for the Ares 3 and Ares 4 missions depicted in the movie can be seen in the images beamed to Earth by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. The first is on a Martian plain known as Acidalia Planitia and the other within a 285-mile wide crater called Schiaparelli. Other locations relevant to the story can also be seen in the pictures taken by the orbiter’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRise) camera. They are available for anyone to explore here. In The Martian, Matt Damon plays Nasa astronaut Mark Watney, who finds himself stranded on the Red Planet after a powerful dust storm. The film, directed by Ridley Scott, is based on the debut novel of American author Andy Weir. Much of the action takes place in Acidalia Planitia, which the book describes as “flat and easy to drive over”. But according to Nasa, the region is far more hazardous and difficult to navigate in real life. Images of localities close to the Ares 3 landing site show numerous mounds and “dense fields” of boulders up to several metres high. There are also fissures associated with “giant polygons” with steep rocky slopes that would be impassable, said Nasa. Another region featured in the story, called Arabia Terra, is described as rocky, whereas in reality it is relatively smooth. Often on Mars, large flat low areas are scoured by wind leaving rocks and eroded bedrock exposed, the space agency added.
Published at: 07/10/2015

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