22 August 2013

The SETI and Europa Report

I don't post movie reviews on my blog, but I will talk a bit about a very interesting science fiction movie I enjoyed recently. The movie is called Europa Report, and it is a fact-based sci-fi, something that I quite enjoy because it employs very solid science and technology in its depiction of the future. In this case, the story is of a search for extraterrestrial life, a trip to the Jovian moon Europa in hopes of finding the first sign of life outside of Earth.

Europa Report poster
I find the search for extraterrestrial life and SETI (extraterrestrial intelligence) to be an excellent scientific endeavor, and the latest discoveries of exoplanets on the Kepler Mission, and the ongoing search being conducted by the SETI Institute at the Allen Array in Northern California, along with advanced astrobiology research going on at SETI in Mountain View, all are part of the grand search that captivates so many -- the ongoing pursuit of an answer to the question "are we alone in the universe?" I am happy that we live in a world where some of our tax dollars and donations support these scientific endeavors

The movie Europa Report, like Contact and Deep Impact, are portrayals of unusual or theoretical situations that attempt to remain scientifically grounded. I once heard astronomer and blogger Phil Plait give a fairly in depth assessment of Deep Impact, and although it has some flaws, it is mostly on the mark and an exciting movie for the subject at hand, a comet impacting the Earth. Europa Report follows the story of six astronauts on the long journey to one of Jupiter's moons, Europa, because it contains a large ocean of water under a layer of ice, and could harbor life. Without spoiling the movie ending, I'll simply say that the drama and excitement (and danger) of this kind of journey are well captured in this movie, and if you want an entertaining and riveting evening out, go see the movie. If you'd like a proper movie review, here are some good ones: Space.com is good, as is Roger Ebert's review and the review on io9.

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