NASA Hosts Reddit AMA Inspired by Ridley Scott's 'The Martian'

The Martian Still 7 - H 2015
'The Martian,' Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Sure, you can go to Mars. If you know Matt Damon or John Carter, that is.

NASA hosted a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Monday, inviting the public to ask questions about the realism of Ridley Scott’s new film The Martian, and the possibility of travel to Mars.

The Martian, starring Matt Damon, was released in theaters this past Friday. In the movie, Damon’s character is stranded alone on Mars after a mission turns sour. The plot centers around his fight for survival on the red planet while back on Earth, scientists at NASA try to solve the problem of bringing him home.

The Martian takes place in the 2030s, around the time NASA actually plans to send humans to Mars.

Officials answering questions in the Reddit AMA included Michael Meyer, the Lead Scientist in NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, Todd May, the Deputy Center Director for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, and Brian Muirhead, the Chief Engineer of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the former Project Manager of Pathfinder.

Over 300 questions were asked, ranging from inquires about long-term space travel to NASA’s opinion on the movie.

"I think all of us 'space-geeks' loved it!!! We know how hard space travel is and the director, Ridley Scott, did a great job of showing how much individual skill and team effort is required to be successful," said Muirhead, adding that he hopes the movie will inspire more interest in science and engineering.

One user asked if NASA was working for Damon. Not quite, but the actor did pay JPL a visit. "JPL and NASA have been working with the producers over the last couple of years. Some of the actors visited JPL during production to research their roles. Matt Damon visited JPL recently to take a tour and do media interviews," wrote Muirhead.

Meyers added that NASA advised the film crew. "The director wanted to get the science as accurate as possible and still have a big movie," he said.

In the film, Damon’s character is also a botanist. In order to solve his food supply problem he plants potatoes using his own feces as fertilizer. A user asked if that would be the crop of choice or if NASA had another in mind. "I sure hope there are more food choices and more music choices than in the movie! Disco sux!" May responded, referencing the film’s '70s-inspired disco soundtrack.

Finally, one user asked the question we all have been wondering, "Can I go to Mars?" NASA’s reply? "That depends. Do you know Matt Damon or John Carter?"

Read NASA’s full Reddit AMA here