In this article, I will discuss the similarities between fictional space films, like Passengers, and the reality of Earth and space technology now. The 2016 film Passengers, directed by Morten Tyldum, seems more tangible with each passing day. The film revolves around Jim Preston and Aurora Lane, passengers of the enormous spacecraft “Avalon.” After departing from Earth, the Avalon carries 5,000 passengers on a trek to a new world, Homestead II, that fares far better than Earth. It is a fresh start and a new beginning for this group of people on board.
Whether they are meant to test the conditions of a new planet or send feedback to those residing on Earth, these 5,000 passengers are tasked to colonize and create a new civilization. Only a select group, the elite or those within a desirable trade, are the first to carry out this space destination. Perhaps once this group of people establishes a new civilization, more people on Earth might travel to this new planet. The film is unclear about their plans once a contemporary society is created. Do they plan to recruit more people from Earth? Or do they plan to carry out their kind of society, one separate and cut off from Earth entirely?
Fantasy films like Passengers are rooted in the idea that the Earth will not last forever. Therefore, the plot emerges. It revolves around the brave individual(s) that must travel beyond the world we know in hopes of finding a new home. Moreover, films like Passengers play on the reality we live in now. The fact that our planet will not last forever glares at us, challenging us to make our next move. Furthermore, many scientists have tackled this challenge head-on and created the opportunity for space travel to be possible. To take it a step further, scientists are working to make life on another planet plausible for humans in the future.
Recently, extremely wealthy people have begun to pay millions of dollars for a priceless ticket to space. One of the main reasons citizens have started traveling to space is for commercialization. The commercialization of space makes it possible for more projects, equipment, and spacecraft to be built and funded. While these trips to space are mostly only attainable by the elite and wealthy, they show that anything is possible. People that do not plan on being astronauts can travel to space too! Like wealthy individuals making the journey to space for commercial purposes, other educated citizens have also traveled to space for research purposes.
Researchers and workers like Hayley Arceneaux have continued the long and daunting challenge of learning all that we can from space by visiting the realm itself. Arceneaux is a part of the SpaceX mission, which orbited the Earth and strived to not only learn more about human health but also learn more about what it means to be in space altogether. The four citizens apart of the SpaceX mission made it a goal to gain more knowledge about human health in general, and their findings could benefit us on Earth.
Like people making the journey to the space station or orbiting around the Earth, scientists have not stopped their continuous efforts to learn more about the planet Mars. Since the 1970s, NASA has sent numerous Mars rovers to the planet to collect findings and research. The rover Perseverance was sent to the Red Planet in 2020, and one of its main jobs was to look for any signs of current or past life on the planet. NASA speculates that there was possibly previous life on the planet, but it only spanned bacterial life.
In addition, the rover was tasked with experimenting with natural resources and how they react on the planet. Resources like oxygen are rather challenging to transport in space, which humans wouldn’t know without the help of these rovers. This kind of research has given scientists hope that one day they could send a human mission to Mars.
As Astronomy.com mentions, Mars is always the first thing that comes to mind when people think about living on another planet, but is this idea feasible? The Red Planet does not cater to our species as much as we believe, although it does look quite familiar to some of our geographic, mountainous locations on Earth.
The SpaceX mission does plan to send humans to Mars within the next ten years, but to do that, they would need to know anything and everything about the oxygen levels on the planet, the gravity, and the list goes on. For the first human mission to Mars, it would be imperative that they have the proper equipment and measurements of resources because anything less could be disastrous. This Red Planet is made up of mainly carbon dioxide, something we cannot breathe in, and the gravity is drastically different from Earth's. The odds are against us on Mars, but NASA’s scientists are relentless. Whether they are driven by a hunger to explore and discover more than imaginable or fueled by a fear of resources running out on Earth, a human space mission to Mars is in the works.
It is clear that humans wish to travel beyond this world, but they have only been able to do so in small increments. Without more research and findings, humans are limited to what they only know thus far. As our technology advances, it becomes increasingly possible to explore space and maybe even find a habitable planet for humans. At this point in time, the Mars rovers and space missions are changing the face of space travel and how we will approach a potential society on another planet. Additionally, films like Passengers encourage our thinking about what space travel could be.
While the ability to travel to space remains in the hands of the wealthy, it is interesting to make such connections between fictional films and reality. Besides the movie Passengers, there have been countless adaptations on space travel, colonizing on a foreign planet, and humans being forced to leave Earth overall. As mentioned before, films like these are based on the idea that we should travel far beyond what we know, but the underlying factor is that a great deal of film also revolves around the fact that the Earth will not always be habitable. While we watch and wait for what NASA unfolds, these entertaining, fictional space films will continue to remind us that we should continue to evolve our technology. How far are we willing to go to keep our species alive?
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