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Here’s Why Science Buffs Will Love The Martian

After a string of four problematic films (Robin Hood, Prometheus, The Counselor, and Exodus: Gods and Kings), director Ridley Scott needed a full-blown crowdpleaser—and that’s exactly what he delivers with The Martian. Offering something for just about everyone, this expertly crafted astronaut adventure should be particularly satisfying for those who demand scientific accuracy. In bringing Andy Weir’s novel to the screen, Scott and screenwriter Drew Goddard put a great deal of emphasis on getting the science just right, and the scientific community has responded with a heartfelt stamp of approval. Here are five reasons why.

Authentic spacecraft

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While some have made the case that the spacecraft in The Martian is implausibly large and tidy, TIME’s Jeffrey Kluger has applauded the film for getting the physics of this ship’s artificial gravity—and the transition to zero-g—exactly right. More importantly, it looks really cool.

Authentic Mars

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Using a combination of special effects and location shooting in Jordan, Scott has accurately captured the terrain of Mars, as recorded by NASA. The storm that strikes onscreen is a little more sudden and aggressive than the real thing, but that’s the price you have to pay to put Matt Damon’s hyper-competent Mark Watney in jeopardy.

Martian potatoes

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Speaking to Discovery News, NASA scientist Doug Ming confirms that Watney’s process for growing potatoes on Mars—using Martian soil and human waste—is completely viable… if not especially appetizing.

Homemade water

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As The Martian makes abundantly clear, creating water in a closed habitat on Mars is not the safest process, but Watney’s method—burning the oxygen from his life support system—is sound. Makes us thirsty just thinking about it.

Gravity assist

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At one crucial point in The Martian, a NASA technician on Earth blows everyone’s mind when he realizes that a gravity assist could help reunite Watney with his crew. It turns out this is a viable technique that goes all the way back to the early Apollo missions. As for NASA’s amazement at this “discovery,” well, it turns out that’s a little less credible.

For more on The Martian, read our TIFF review here and watch the trailer here.

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