In detail, write how you would change the movie Europa Report scientifically. Basically, detail the current errors of the film, write why they are unacceptable and then illustrate how you will make it scientifically acceptable, while not compromising the original and current story line.
It is extremely difficult for sci-fi movies to maintain a good balance between fact and fiction. The movie Europa Report seems to maintain this balance to quite an extent as it respects audience’s intelligence as well as offering a thrilling story. The astronauts are on a mission to discover signs of life on Europa, which is Jupiter’s icy moon. Comparatively, this movie might be plausible but when it is analysed on its own accord there seem to be quite a few scientific errors that could’ve been avoided and replaced. I will discuss those flaws in detail along with suggesting alternatives to make it a realistic movie.
First and foremost, Europa is an icy moon which is not an accessible place as it isn’t quite feasible for humans to reach there. It would take an unimaginable time to get there in reality and the surface is extremely cold with immense amount of radiation. Though, if all odds are fought with and robots instead of humans are used, it is still manageable. Of course, movies do require human cast unless it is an animation. Furthermore, according to the movie the privately funded Europa One mission portrayed a price tag of $3.6 billion which isn’t a plausible estimate compared to reality.
Now to discuss some technicalities and the faults there in, let me first discuss the issue of gravity which has always been a topic of concern in sci-fi movies. In this movie, simulated gravity has been portrayed which appears to be somewhat similar to Earth’s gravity in magnitude. This task is achieved by rotating the living module but according to the sheer size of the craft, the module would need to rotate much faster than presented to produce the desired gravity.
Moving on, it is a bit strange that on a huge mission with six astronauts, there was no robotic rover on the mission that could collect all the samples despite of knowing the dangers of a human walking on the surface in radiation. Then the samples actually collected by the crew member were scanned way too quickly. Realistically, no technology could scan the sample in seconds. Also given that it was the entire purpose of the mission and the magnitude of the discovery was huge, there should’ve been some built up before revealing the results of the scan. They should’ve waited to return to the craft before analysing the samples.
As for technicalities pertaining to the actual spacecraft, I think the rockets they hurled from are well made but are not large enough. The overall launch appears visually like an Atlas V launch with added boosters even though they wanted to portray the latest SLS-style launch. Furthermore, the communication systems of the craft were interrupted by a solar storm which is quite unlikely in reality.
Talking about the surface of Europa, a weak point in Europa’s icy crust is shown in the movie. In reality though, there is no certainty or evidence of Europa being geologically active. Moving on, a female scientist in the movie attains a coloured ice sample and determines right away that there is a sign of life. In reality though, it cannot be expected to find any sign of life on the very surface of Europa due to the extremely fatal radiation and harsh cold. Also to find such interesting samples just below the surface is unrealistic. Though, dead and frozen life could be found on the surface.
In reality the ice is at least ten or more kilometres in thickness. While there are places where there are disruptions in the ice shell, it can’t be realistically this thin that a spacecraft could easily crack through it, let alone members of the crew. The basic premise of the movie was losing crew members one by one due to ice shell breaking and eating them up which could’ve been portrayed in various other ways which I will suggest at the end.
There is one part of the movie that I found completely ridiculous, that is, light emitting through the ice because of some “radiationopus” as I like to call it, an octopus kind of a creature that emits radiation. The ice at Antarctica isn’t capable of this despite of being only eight meters so there is no way that ice as thick as 10 km or more is this translucent that it can reflect light on surface from below and even pose danger to the crew by interacting with helmet’s light.
Though it is understandable that the movie directors and writers wanted to strike a balance between reality and fiction and had to exaggerate the story a bit to make it an enjoyable sci-fi, I personally believe that a movie that is based on near future could’ve been more realistic to actually make the entire mission quite believable and real. If I were to re-make the movie to make it realistically believable, I would set the amount for the mission to at least $4.5 billion or so. I would’ve used robots in the crew along with two humans who could keep a check on the operation side of the craft. Realistically, only robots could be dispensable enough to be sent as far as Europa in extreme radiation. Then the sample collection would’ve been done by a robotic rover as a human wouldn’t be able to withstand that amount of radiation. In order to make the sample collection and the thickness of ice more believable, I would’ve made a robot dig deep enough to reach the water beneath ice and then collect samples from the water. Instead of a human dying from light emitted by a creature, the robot would’ve been lost in the water as the dug ice quickly fills the hole initially dug by the robot. Meanwhile, to keep the storyline almost similar, sample containing proof of life needs to be sent to the crew and back to earth. Therefore, the robot before being deactivated and in the water would transmit images of the radiationopus to the crew which would only be revealed at the end of the movie. One of the surviving human crew members would be ready to open the transmitted image right before opening the gates of the craft as in the original movie, and before actually seeing the image on the computer she would see the radiationopus in the water beneath her and that would be the end of the movie. The image of the creature would’ve been sent to earth automatically as is sent to the craft system by the robot.