Goofs from Ad Astra
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- Antimatter, when it comes into contact with normal matter, does not cause a "chain reaction", as is stated when Roy is being briefed about the Lima Project. When antimatter and matter come into contact, they mutually annihilate each other into pure energy, using Albert Einstein's E=mc2 equation (100% matter-to-energy conversion). There would be no possibility of an antimatter incident at Neptune affecting Earth, except for the one-time burst of energy that such an explosion would create.
- During the lunar rover journey, dust is seen "hanging in the air". This would not occur on the Moon, as there is virtually no atmosphere; all dust thrown up from the ground would immediately fall back to the ground and stay there.
- The distance from Tycho crater (where Roy lands on the Moon) to the center of Farside (where the "Cepheus" is located) is roughly 1,700 miles. Traveling at the speed shown and assuming no stops, Roy's lunar rover would take a couple of days to get there.
- A nuclear explosion would not provide any sort of propulsion to a spaceship, even if it also caused an antimatter explosion. There is no atmosphere in space and no "shockwaves" that could propel a ship. Only whatever directly hit the ship would provide any sort of propulsion, and it would be a one-time, instantly-over event.
- While on Mars and indoors on the Moon, characters experience Earth-normal gravity rather than the dramatically reduced gravity they should.
- Martian permafrost varies in thickness from 3.5km at the equator to 8km at the poles, making an underground lake impossible.
- Roy chooses to let his shuttle drift away when arriving at the Lima Project rather than tethering it for the return journey to his ship.
- Cepheus can make the journey from Mars to Neptune in 79 days which means it must have monstrously powerful engines (the same journey took Voyager 12 years). If it has all this power, plus enough spare to detour, de-accelerate, and re-accelerate on a rescue mission, then there is no need for the array of solar panels it sports.
- Neptune's rings are black, not purple.
- Errors in Roy's free fall at the beginning of the film: Roy should have gone "full tilt delta" (arms and legs fully extended) to increase his horizontal distance from the International Space Antenna in order to avoid the falling debris. Once his canopy was damaged by debris, he should release it and deploy his spare.
- While landing on Mars after the system failure, manual mode is switched and Roy tries to set the angle of fall to 0, but he doesn't turn off the engines at any time; he succeeds in setting the angle in the very last second and yet the rocket lands right in the place where it should, instead of miles away from it.
- The speeds at which the spacecraft Pitt pilots to Neptune requires a constant acceleration to make the trip in 79 days. Every external shot of the ship shows its thrusters firing creating this acceleration. This would also facilitate perceived gravity on the ship; however, it is pointed out that the ship has zero gravity.
- Early in the film, while still on Earth, the camera pans up to show the last-quarter moon, but what is actually shown is the first-quarter moon reversed.
- Climbing up inside a rocket while the engines are running? Wow. Just wow.
- When Roy is watching the Lima Mutiny Classified Briefing the timer on the screen starts counting up from zero, implying that it is timing the recording. After the introduction, the timer again starts at zero as Roy's father gives an apparently uninterrupted and unedited speech. However, subsequent times shown on screen do not match up with the actual time passed, in fact, jump back and forth significantly.
- When Roy arrives on the moon he's told the moon is nearly full (seen from the Earth). So (seen from the Moon) the Sun should be nearly behind Earth, making Earth nearly dark in shadow (aka "new") and visible only near sunset/rise. Instead during the rover trip the Earth appears about 2/3 illuminated, and thus (seen from Earth) the Moon should be about 1/3 illuminated (relative phases are in opposition), and the moon scene's drop shadows are consistent with this.
- Just before the antenna accident early in the film, a college football score is relayed to the astronauts, but when Roy departs for the Moon on an urgent mission roughly two weeks later, the date on the airport gate display states it is late May. The announced score was 35-16, so it couldn't have been basketball, hockey or baseball. Football is a fall/winter sport, not spring.
- When the Cepheus first reaches Mars, it rotates directly from forward propulsion to a vertical landing profile. In an actual mission, it would have approached Mars in retro propulsion profile because it would have had to slow down for orbital insertion (especially going fast enough to reach Mars in 20 days). When ready to land, it would retro-fire and gradually come to a vertical alignment as it slowed down and entered the atmosphere. Considering the realistic production design of this film such elementary mistakes of spaceflight physics are unforgivable.
- Upon arriving at Mars, Roy states he's been away from Earth for 7 weeks. The planned trip was only about 3 weeks. They did detour to answer a mayday call, but that doesn't account for an extra 4 weeks for a ship that can rocket to Mars in 20 days.
- The film never identifies what year it is taking place in, but it does show a trip from Mars to Neptune that passes close to Jupiter and Saturn. There is no depiction or discussion of slingshot maneuvers around these giant planets, so it is fair to assume the roughly 80-day flight was more-or-less in a straight line (especially because SPACECOM urgently wanted to destroy the source of the Surges). The first year in which the 4 planets involved will be anywhere close to a straight line is 2237. However, it is also stated that the moon's phase is almost full at the end of May. The moon will be full in mid-May 2237, not the end of that month.
- When Roy is on the secret mission and they get a distress call from another ship and slow down, with the slow down, nobody shows any sign of acceleration (negative this time). Roy being floating and not strapped down, should have coasted toward the front of the ship which he didn't.
- While in the Mars lake, Roy listens to the radio broadcast from Cepheus Launch control giving "T-11min7seconds and counting" and "planned lift-off time at 7:51UTC". Roy then looks at his wrist-display showing "7:44:53 UTC" thus indicating a 5 minute differential between the planned take-off times. (7:44:53+0:11:07 = 7:56 rather than 7:51)
- During the descent to Mars the vertical speed shown in the conning display is 7235 m/s and increasing. Right after Roy says "2000 meters", giving the ship 0.28 seconds to land.
- When Roy McBride sneaks aboard the Cepheus and is confronted by the crew, all persons are floating in zero-G. At that time, the Cepheus has just launched a few minutes earlier and is still accelerating away from Mars. Due to this, everyone on board should be pushed towards the back end of the rocket.
- In the opening scene, when Roy first steps out of the craft and onto a ladder to fix a robotic arm, he tethers himself to the craft. One presumes all personnel tether themselves in this way, yet when the electrical system malfunctions and the craft begins to explode, very many astronauts including Roy fall from the structure, before the structure itself is damaged enough that one could assume the attachment points themselves broke away.
- Roy says the Lima project dates to about 29 years ago, that his father disappeared 16 years into the mission, and that he himself was 16 when his father left and 29 when he disappeared. This doesn't add up, as either Roy would need to have been 13 when his father left, or 32 when he disappeared. Secondly, Roy then is somewhere between 42 and 45 in the present day, while Brad Pitt would have been around 56 when the movie filmed, and he looks pretty close to his age, not very believable as being in his early 40s. Thirdly, Tommy Lee Jones would have been in his early 70s at the time of filming, and some photos of him, as well as the video his character Clifford sent Roy around 2 years into the mission (27 years, 3 months and 2 days prior to present day), look that age. Even if--like Pitt--Jones's character is younger than the actor, he is still old enough at the time of departure that it is odd such an old man was sent out on such a long mission. It is also odd that commanders would have an easy time believing he was alive 29 years later.
- The distance from Mars to Neptune and back again is about 8 light-hours, and yet the team waits only a short while for Roy to receive a reply from his father.
- As with scare stories about the Large Hadron Collider, any antimatter explosion near Neptune having lethal consequences for humanity would be dwarfed by the galaxy's ultra-high energy cosmic rays which are continuously bombarding the Earth.
- At :26 while traveling on the moon Levant gives his bearing as "two-niner-oh". The military and aviation community say "niner" to avoid slurring or confusing "nine". The same group would say "zero", never "oh".
- When Roy is speaking to his father inside the spaceship he is seen floating weightless. Therefore the tear he sheds should pool in front of his cornea (consequently distorting his vision). If there are enough tears and he agitates them by blinking or brushing them away, the excess fluid would float into the air rather than down his cheek.
- When leaving Mars, Roy sees the huge engines ignite a few feet away from him before he gets inside the rocket, but is not injured. Also, he enters the rocket through a hatch near the engines, but ends up in the crew compartment about 100 meters up.
- There is no sizable asteroid in a stable solar orbit between Earth and Mars for the Norwegian space station (and its deadly baboons) to be orbiting.