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The Martian: Everything you didn’t understand during the film — explained

There’s lots of science in the new film The Martian, starring Matt Damon. Some of it authentic and some of it, well, invented for Hollywood. Warning: Spoilers ahead!

The Martian
Image: 20th Century Fox

1. Weather on Mars

The temperature on Mars is shown in Celsius, but here in America, we’re used to the temperature being in Fahrenheit. Mars has a wide range of temperatures, but mostly just really cold. Real Mars temps get as frigid as -242.4 degrees Fahrenheit and as warm as 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. No breathing on Mars

The air is 95 percent carbon dioxide, so good luck with visiting without a fancy spacesuit designed to provide oxygen.

3. Water on Mars

While NASA just announced that it has credible evidence that liquid water exists on Mars, it’s still unknown if there is enough to rely on as a resource. Mars is drier than any of the driest deserts on Earth, but just under the planet’s surface is ice that can be heated up and turned into water.

4. A “day” versus a “sol”

The work sol is used by planetary astronomers to refer to one single solar day on Mars. Surprisingly, their days are very similar in length to those on Earth. A Mars sol lasts 24 hours, 39 minutes, and 35.244 seconds.

5. About that nasty, severe windstorm

It couldn’t happen because Mars has super low atmospheric pressure (less than 1 percent of Earth’s), which means a severe storm would feel like a soft summer breeze. Andy Weir, who wrote the novel, The Martian, said this about the unrealistic storm, “I needed a way to force the astronauts off the planet, so I allowed myself some leeway. Plus, I thought the storm would be pretty cool.” He was right, especially watching it in 3D.

More: Fantastic Four: 11 Obvious mistakes they made in the movie

The Martian
Image: 20th Century Fox

6. A spacecraft call Hermes

The Mars Ascent Vehicle called Hermes was named after the ancient Greek messenger of the gods. Though NASA doesn’t currently have any long-term space travel vehicles, it’s plausible one could look like the Hermes, but it would most likely be a lot more compact.

7. Very green source of electricity

Everything on Mars is powered by solar panels. This is very realistic, considering this is how the power on the International Space Station is generated.

8. “EVA” suits

“EVA,” or Extra Vehicular Activity, where scientists would work outdoors, would certainly require its own suit for conducting zero-gravity activities. Director Ridley Scott called the costume the “doughboy” because it was so puffy.

More: 13 Mind-blowing things in Trainspotting you never noticed

The Martian
Image: 20th Century Fox

9. Farming in your own feces

In the film, Watney (Matt Damon), uses packages of human poop to add bacteria to the Martian soil so he can grow potatoes. Thanks to real experiments conducted by Mars Rovers, we know the soil on the red planet already contains nitrogen in a biologically usable form, but farmers in China have been using human feces as a fertilizer for centuries.

More: Ender’s Game: 10 Weird things that happen to a body in space

10. Radiation

Because of galactic cosmic rays in space, the trip to and from Mars would expose the astronauts to more than 30 times the annual radiation limit for a nuclear power plant engineer. Some scientists believe this would severely shorten the lives of Mars visitors.

The Martian opens in theaters on Oct. 2.

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