With Ridley Scott’s epic The Martian hitting cinemas this week and news that Matt Damon has been proven a fool by NASA when they found evidence of water on the red planet recently, Mars has certainly been enjoying its time in the spotlight of late.
But this isn’t the first time that Mars has found its way onto our movie screens – John Carter, Red Planet, Mission To Mars and even Mars Attacks! saw Earthlings dealing with our dusty neighbouring planet. Obviously heading to mars to shoot a movie is rather difficult (just don’t tell that to those folk who think poor Matt Damon is actually trapped there…) so we’ve had to find filming locations that fit the planet’s profile here on earth.
Ridley Scott was able to imitate Mars thanks to a particularly barren spot in southern Jordan that’s been doubling as the red planet for years – Wadi Rum. Also known as The Valley Of The Moon, Wadi Rum is a desolate desert vista that resembles the red planet due to its valley cut from sandstone and granite rock.
The area in south-west Jordan is currently a popular tourist destination for hikers and rock climbers who aim to explore the massive rock formations across Wadi Rum. The 720 square kilometre arena is also a popular spot for camping under the stars as well as camel and horse safaris through the valley.
The majority of The Martian‘s exterior shots were filmed at Wadi Rum in March of 2015. The area also stood in for Mars on several other films including 2013’s The Last Days on Mars and 2000’s Red Planet. Additionally, Wadi Rum has doubled for Arabia in Lawrence of Arabia, Egypt in Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen, and for another alien planet in Ridley Scott’s previous film Prometheus.