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How Accurate Is 'The Martian'?

Stashed in: Reddit!, Awesome, Scatology, Mars!, SciFi!, Space!, Mars Humans, AMA, The Martian, Upvoted

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Fact-checking the recent Matt Damon movie with some rocket scientists!

I'm disappointed that the storm that causes the entire movie is impossible.

A windstorm on the surface of Mars at the beginning of the film almost blows over the return spacecraft, forcing Watney’s fellow astronauts to launch without him. But a storm of that magnitude has never been recorded on Mars, Burger says. “The storm at the beginning could not have knocked over that spaceship,” he says. “You can get winds on Mars up to about 60 miles per hour, which sounds pretty fast, but the pressure is about 0.6 percent of what it is on Earth, and you need both the pressure and the wind to actually knock things over.” Meaning that the air on Mars isn't dense enough to blow over a craft like the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV).

If only he'd had a fire extinguisher.  

The ‘Ironman’ Stunt: Impossible

Even with a change of course from Hermes, the crew isn’t quite close enough to grab Watney, so he cuts a hole in the glove of his suit and uses the escaping pressure to “fly like Ironman.”

“You can have small portions of your body touching space for relatively long amounts of time,” says Burger. “Once, a guy on a spacewalk had a cut in his suit, and his skin got stuck to the outside of the spacesuit and was touching the vacuum of space. When he came back in, he was fine. But if you did that to your glove, your palm would get sucked to the hole and seal it up pretty fast. So I don’t think you would actually be able to use it like a jet.”

Would a fire extinguisher work in space?

But would that really work or is Wall-E and his fire extinguisher just Pixar? :)

Oh yes.  Fascinating.  Astronaut Chris Hatfield is somewhat of an expert on space farts, according to

More on Mars by Hadfield:

Good page! Btw the upvoted story is hilarious:

Farts are basically rocket fuel, but you’d need a fuck-ton of it (more than the most ravenous Taco Bell eater is able to produce in a lifetime) to propel yourself through space by farting.

Interestingly, astronauts do fart more in space, but it’s not enough to generate thrust.

According to a flatulence study, the average person releases around 1 liter of gas per day. That’s roughly the same size as this water bottle and Matt estimates that the fart would weigh around 0.5 grams.

And the Hadfield Reddit AMA is wonderful too:

13. What the hell was Bullock’s plan before she grabbed the fire extinguisher to recreate Wall-E, just jump?Like, she’s about to jump out of the Soyuz and at the last second remembers the fire extinguisher. What the hell, was she just going to jump towards Tiangong-1 and hope for the best? Did she even read number 6 above?

So she didn't even read number 6 above! She had no plan.

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