This photo is a snippet from the trailer of the movie Europa Report. Europa is one of the moons of Jupiter.
In this story, unmanned probes suggest that a hidden ocean could exist underneath Europa’s icy surface. Where there is water, there could be life. Scientists speculate that the ocean could contain single-celled life.
Europa Ventures, a privately funded space exploration company, sends six astronauts on a deep space mission to Europa to confirm the data and explore what may lie in the Europan ocean.
But deep space missions are fraught with challenges. A near-catastrophic technical failure cuts off communications with Earth along the way. When the ship arrives, the astronauts must overcome physical and psychological challenges that they could not plan for or expect. Eventually, while battling for their survival, they make a discovery more profound than they had ever imagined.
Europa report is the kind of movie that you can only watch if you are a science and space nut. It feels like you are watching CNN live footage. The pictures break up, like they do when they travel over such enormous distances. Many vignettes are news feeds, either from mission control people on Earth, or from the astronauts on the way to Jupiter. It feels like a documentary.
The imagery of Europa orbiting the massive Jupiter seem extremely realistic. The entire movie plays like real footage. The viewer sees through the astronauts’ eyes. This view is not always perfect. Sometimes they can’t quite see around a massive shard of ice on the surface of the moon. It made me want to crane my neck.
I also enjoyed the very realistic portrayal of the spacecraft. The human habitation module is basically a massive rotating propeller with hammerheads on both ends, the hammerheads being the modules. The rotation of the propeller provides micro gravity. When the astronauts are in one module, they can look straight up, basically through the propeller, to the opposing module, where another astronaut could be standing “upside down” looking up at them. There is a ladder they can use to climb up the shaft, losing gravity as they ascend. In the hub they experience weightlessness, turn themselves upside down and then climb down the other side.
This imagery of the spacecraft, the landing module, the landing itself and the pictures of Jupiter and Europa are the most remarkable since those we saw in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, decades ago.
As I said in the beginning, if you are not a space buff, this movie could be boring or outright weird. I am a space nut, though, and I enjoyed every second of Europa Report.