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Tuesday 20 March 2018

Life imitates art as Nasa releases photos of real-life Martian locations

This Nasa image shows the Acidalia Planitia region of Mars, as depicted in the new movie The Martian
This Nasa image shows the Acidalia Planitia region of Mars, as depicted in the new movie The Martian
Nasa responded to the release of The Martian by releasing real life pictures of the Red Planet

Blockbuster movie The Martian has inspired American space agency Nasa to release photos showing real-life locations from the film on the Red Planet.

Two landing sites for the Ares 3 and Ares 4 missions depicted in the movie can be seen in the images beamed to Earth by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft.

The first is on a Martian plain known as Acidalia Planitia and the other within a 285-mile wide crater called Schiaparelli.

Other locations relevant to the story can also be seen in the pictures taken by the orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera.

They are available for anyone to explore on website http://uahirise.org/martian

In The Martian, released in the UK on September 30, Matt Damon plays Nasa astronaut Mark Watney who finds himself stranded on the Red Planet after a powerful dust storm.

The film, directed by Ridley Scott, is based on the debut novel of American author Andy Weir.

Much of the action takes place in Acidalia Planitia which the book describes as "flat and easy to drive over".

But according to Nasa the region is far more hazardous and difficult to navigate in real life. Images of localities close to the Ares 3 landing site show numerous mounds and "dense fields" of boulders up to several metres high.

There are also fissures associated with "giant polygons" with steep rocky slopes that would be impassable, said Nasa.

Another region featured in the story called Arabia Terra is described as rocky whereas in reality it is relatively smooth.

Often on Mars, large flat low areas are scoured by wind leaving rocks and eroded bedrock exposed, the space agency added.

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