For those of us who don’t work for NASA, watching The Martian is an exercise is suspending disbelief, as the film presents a whole lot of science that most of us just need to accept at face value. But how does it hold up when scrutinized by the professionals? Still pretty well, it turns out.
Miriam Kramer at Mashable fact-checks the science of The Martian, and finds that only a few moments aren’t scientifically accurate. One is when the movie needed to mess with science to boost the drama is the dust storm scene, where hurricane level winds are presented despite the fact that actual winds on Mars never really exceed 60 mph.
A larger issue is the spaceship used to get to Mars, which the article points out is firmly in the realm of fiction; for the most part, the piece spends its time pointing out the elements that The Martian got right or nearly right. One of the most interesting aspects is the psychological effect that plants have on astronauts, which is not directly addressed in the film, but could provide an answer as to how Matt Damon’s Mark Watney remains calm for as long as he does.