The science fiction novel-turned-movie “The Martian” has spawned an awesomely nerdy meme that gives props to NASA.
It shows how many “sols” — Martian days — that both “The Martian” main character Mark Watney and the NASA’s Opportunity mars rover spent on the Red Planet.
Here’s the significance behind it:
In “The Martian,” astronaut Mark Watney gets stranded on Mars. He’s stuck there for a total of 549 Martian days, which, since days on Mars are about 40 minutes longer than days on Earth, scientists refer to them as “sols.”
549 sols is a pretty long time. But NASA has a real robotic rover on Mars right now called Opportunity that’s been exploring the red planet for 4,144 sols (more than 11 Earth years) and counting.
Which means Opportunity is kicking Watney’s butt.
In “The Martian,” there’s a scene where Mark Watney realises he technically colonised Mars by being the first person to grow crops on the planet, and says “In your face, Neil Armstrong!”
The image references that line as a nod to what NASA has accomplished with Opportunity:
And NASA has reason to be proud of their little rover. Opportunity was meant to last only 90 days on the red planet. It’s now completed a marathon (26.2 miles) in its past 11 years on Mars, and it’s still actively exploring the planet.
You can see how far the rover has travelled in the image below, and some of the discoveries it’s made along the way:
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