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    Posted September 3, 2015 by
    Malibu, California
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    iReport at the movies

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    Matt Damon, Ridley Scott, The Martian-Jouney To Mars


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Freelance journalist Julie Ellerton snapped photos of actor Matt Damon and director Ridley Scott last week at the press event for the movie “The Martian” at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She also got a tour of JPL’s “Mars Yard,” which has a replica of the surface of the Red Planet.

    “Matt Damon does an excellent job, he was funny, witty, which, I think it was an explosive meeting of bullion mind when Damon and Ridley Scott got together. Their chemistry was evident at the Press Day. Really looking forward to seeing the entire movie,” Ellerton said.
    - zdan, CNN iReport producer

    The worldwide movement to join the "Journey to Mars" is building daily and is bound to skyrocket with 20th Century Fox’s film The Martian, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon, opening on October 2nd. A press day was held recently at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).


    A screening of the film was followed by a panel discussion which included; opening remarks from Director of JPL Charles Elachi, Director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters Jim Green, author of "The Martian” Andy Weir, Director Ridley Scott, Actor Matt Damon, and NASA astronaut Drew Feustel.


    In “The Martian,” Damon plays the role of astronaut Mark Watney, a member of a crew sent to Mars who gets left behind after a fierce storm and is presumed to be dead. His character survived and has to use what is around him on the hostile planet to send a signal to Earth so he can be rescued.


    Damon spoke about taking on the role as Astronaut Mark Watney, "I think us mere mortals are always captivated by the way people can do this and seem to have some preternatural calm when they’re in these incredibly high stress situations and that was what was really attractive about the character, how he [Astronaut Mark Watney] kept his sense of humor and kept this incredible, logical, practical, solve one problem at a time type of thinking.. It’s what these real guys, I’m sitting right next to one of them [NASA Astronaut Drew Feustel ] actually do” Damon shared.


    Damon was asked if he would be interested in going to Mars given the opportunity. His response,”I think it takes a special type of person. I’m glad there are those type of people already. It would be tough for me to do it. I’ll let SpaceX and those guys get out there for about 20 years or so before I go on a flight” He laughs.


    "It’s a funny thing about astronauts, we have to be smart enough to fly a spacecraft back to earth, but just a little bit whacky enough to sit on top of that rocket fuel," Feustel quipped. "We’re all a little bit Six Sigma in some way or another that allows us to take that trip. When the count down gets to zero, you definitely are having second thoughts about the decisions you're making in life, but you get there and for us it’s about doing the job that we were trained to do and carrying out the mission."


    There are many different movement taking flight on social media,about travel to Mars, including “MarsorBust2030”( a way of exciting the public about going to Mars in that decade) “Mars One,” (those buying a one-way ticket to colonize on Mars0 “Mars Generation” (too young to have seen man take his first step on the moon, the Mars Generation is 18-34 years who will witness a man or woman stepping foot on Mars).


    "Some of us were around when we landed on the moon, we were the lunar generation, that was pretty spectacular but when we landed Curiosity on Mars, we had the worlds attention and thats the 'Mars Generation,’ “ Green explained. “ hat’s the inspiration that will propel our economy forward by bringing in the scientist and the engineers. And the movie and the book [The Martian] is a fabulous opportunity for us to celebrate that.”


    'Mars Generation,'Abby Harrison or "Astronaut Abby" as her 44.4K twitter followers refer to her, said she has wanted to be an astronaut for as long as she can remember and go to Mars when she was only 8 or 9. Now 18, she has set her course to do just that. She's pursuing her undergraduate degree in astrophysics, continuing studies of Chinese and Russian, furthering her SCUBA experience, and soon beginning her pilots license. Harrison takes the “Mars Generation" seriously, "It is the Mars Generation that is now tasked with leading the world to the next great exploration. Many generations before us have been explorers, exploring Earth from the ground, then expanding to the sky, then the lower orbit and the moon,” Harrison shared. "Without this progress, we’d be in a much different place than we are today. And now it’s our turn.”


    Henderson hopes the world will share in her enthusiasm for Mars with the release of the film. "The Martian represents our future in space- but hopefully with less drama! It's great to see this coming to life on the big screen and permeating excitement around the world.” Henderson said.


    After the Q&A, attendees toured NASA/JPL Mars Program and JPL’s ‘ MarsYard’-a simulated Martian landscape used by the research and flight projects to test different robotic prototypes, including; Curiosity Rover replica, the Wheel Life Cycle testing rig, testing for highest factuality use of aluminum wheels for use on Mars, and a variety of rocks, beach sand and granite throughout the “Yard” to support multiple test conditions. This is only a small example of components on the 'MarsYard’, site.


    The film The Martian has received critical acclaim by NASA for it’s realistic view of the climate and topography of Mars, based on NASA data, and some of the challenges NASA faces.



    #1-Actor Matt Damon and Director Ridley Scott


    #2- Panel discussion with NASA Astronaut Drew Feustel,Actor Matt Damon,Director Ridley Scott, Author Andy Weir, and Director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters Jim Green


    #3-Director of JPL Charles Elachi


    #4-MSL Robotics Arm Systems Engineer Jason Reid discusses the Curiosity Rover replica at JPL’s ‘MarsYard’ in Pasadena


    #5-Director Ridley Scott


    #6-Actor Matt Damon


    #7-The Wheel Life Cycle testing rig at JPL’s ‘MarsYard’ Pasadena


    #8Author of The Martian Andy Weir


    #9-A variety of rocks, beach sand and granite in the  “MarsYard”


    #10- The Martian

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