NASA has released a new interactive map of Mars that charts Mark Watney’s fictional journey across the red planet in The Martian science fiction film. The movie is based on Andy Weir’s 2011 novel The Martian. [Read the first chapter on Space.com.]
The Mars Trek map provides an explanation for key points in the hero’s 2,000 mile trek towards the Schiaparelli crater. It can be viewed in both 2D and 3D, and aims to provide a Google Earth-like experience so users can explore the red planet’s terrain. Waypoints along the route provide expert commentary from Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division.
The Martian director Ridley Scott said he was attracted to the film project by its emphasis on science. He thought a balance could be struck between entertainment and learning. NASA assisted the filmmakers with depicting the science and technology in The Martian, seeing its potential in promoting space exploration. Jim Erickson, NASA project manager, said the film would show moviegoers “the risks and rewards” of human travel to Mars.
Dr. Ed Finn, director of the Center for Science and the Imagination at ASU, said: “What this story does really well is imagine a near-future scenario that doesn’t push too far of where we are today technically.” British physicist Dr. Brian Cox wrote on his Facebook page: “The Martian is the best advert for a career in engineering I’ve ever seen.”