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Chris Impey

The Martian: Where Science Fiction Meets Science Fact

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On Friday, Matt Damon’s long-awaited sci-fi suspense film The Martian hits the big screen. Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Andy Weir, it tells the story of astronaut Mark Watney, who is stranded on the Red Planet during an expedition, and the furious efforts of his fellow astronauts and NASA to rescue him. The movie promises to be a thrill-inducing jaunt for movie audiences. On Monday, however, NASA announced that it has “the strongest evidence yet” that salty water may be flowing on Mars. That announcement affirms the possibility that life may exist on another planet—and its implications may be a thrill greater than any movie can provide. It also may push the space agency, U.S. policy…

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