The latest episode of Science Goes to the Movies focuses on Mars, using the 2015 film The Martian as the jumping off point for a discussion of the red planet. The guest is Dr. Sarah Stewart Johnson, Assistant Professor of Planetary Sciences at Georgetown University.
The Martian poses a bit of a dilemma for space scientists. Films with a scientist main character that isn’t ‘mad’ are pretty rare. But as with nearly all science fiction films, some liberties will always be taken with the relevant science. Put another way, as Johnson discusses with show hosts Faith Salie and Dr. Heather Berlin, an actual Martian expedition like the Ares 3 mission in the film would look notably different.
This episode is a lively discussion about Mars, full stop. As sometimes happens in this show, the movies are not the focus, but the starting point. Dr. Johnson’s enthusiam makes the rest of the episode almost as lively as The Martian.
The next episode of the program is unique, in that the film it’s covering, X-Men: Apocalypse, will not be released until Memorial Day weekend. However, as there have been several X-Men films released in the last two decades, I don’t think you’ll have to wait to watch the latest film before watching the episode. (I also think the risk of spoilers is low.)