How Real Space Programs Are Inspired By The Movies.

Drawing inspiration from real events is a staple in the entertainment industry, but less common is when science takes a cue from Hollywood.

Two such examples of the big screen inspiring science can be found in NASA’s probe, Deep Impact, and Planetary Resources’ telescope, ARKYD. NASA’s probe was named for the 1998 science fiction disaster film of the same name.Deep Impact, staring Robert Duvall, Tea Leoni, Elijah Wood and Morgan Freeman, chronicles the attempt to destroy a 7-mile wide comet set to collide with Earth, which would result in global extinction. NASA drew inspiration from this film, naming its tiny comet-seeking probe after it. The spacecraft purposefully collided with a comet on July 4, 2005 studying the celestial body’s composition and behavior. This controlled collision helped researchers answer important questions about the icy giant, such as where it originated and how it was formed. Answers to these and other questions could help scientists prepare for and prevent a disaster, much like the probe’s movie counterpart suggests.

Similarly, Planetary Resources’ ARKYD also bears a name taken from a major motion picture: Star Wars. According to President and Chief Engineer Chris Lewicki, “Arakyd Industries was originally a supplier of exploration droids, its most noteworthy achievement being the Viper probe droid model. The Viper model was based on the success of Galalloy Industries early probe droids – the first true probe droids to search planets and asteroids for valuable resources.” Like in the film, ARKYD telescopes will be able to find and characterize resource rich asteroids to mine, as well as study. The tiny, but mighty machine can also monitor these rogue rocks in case one gets too close for comfort.

Sometimes reality is more exciting than fiction. So the next time you’re watching the newest Sci-Fi blockbuster, don’t pass it off as Hollywood hype. Who knows, one day it might just become a reality!