NASA Orbiter Views Sites of Fiction Film's Mars Landings

October 05, 2015

Images from a NASA Mars orbiter’s telescopic camera reveal details of real regions on Mars where a new Hollywood movie, “The Martian,” places future astronaut adventures.

The novel of the same name used actual locations on Mars for the landing sites for its “Ares 3” and “Ares 4” missions. The landing sites for “Ares 3” is on a Martian plain named Acidalia Planitia. The base for the “Ares 4” mission was set inside a crater named Schiaparelli.

Views of these two sites, and other locations pertinent to the fictional story, are in the latest weekly release of images from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. They are available online at

Each observation by HiRISE covers an area of several square miles and shows details as small as a desk. More than 39,000 of them have been taken since the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter reached Mars in 2006. They are available online for anyone to explore, from the comfort of home, at

The HiRISE team has an online process through which anyone can register to submit suggestions for sites to be imaged on Mars, at

HiRISE has provided important information used in selection landing sites for NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover and other robotic missions. Its observations will be used during an Oct. 27-30 workshop in Houston for consideration of landing areas for real future human missions. More information about the workshop is online at

HiRISE is operated by the University of Arizona, Tucson. The instrument was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colorado. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

More information about the MRO, which has been studying Mars from orbit since 2006: