Use Bing to “track” an astronaut across Mars

Space travel and adventure return to the big screen this October in one of fall’s most anticipated movies, The Martian. If you haven’t yet seen a preview of the 20th Century Fox film, or read Andy Weir’s book, the premise is this:

During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. 

Microsoft is excited to partner with 20th Century Fox to bring you closer to this story and the star-studded cast. The Bing team is making it easy for people to get deeper into The Martian story with a special map experience, providing helpful search results with information on Mars and space travel – topics that are of increasing interest, yet remain alien, to most of us. We’ve also created related lesson plans for students, found at Bing in the Classroom.

Read on to discover all the ways Bing is making it easier for you to search, learn about and engage with results related to movies like The Martian.

Track Watney’s journey with Bing Maps 

Bing Maps Preview helps users discover the crucial information they need to make successful travel plans. Similarly, The Martian’s main character, Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon), uses a variety of tools to help him travel across Mars from the Ares 3 landing site to the Schiaparelli Basin in an effort to contact Earth.

For The Martian map, we used the Bing Maps APIs, and the Azure tools and platform to build a custom map experience that tracks astronaut Mark Watney’s journey. This map experience follows The Martian story, and includes Bing search results to bring the Mars landscape to life. Some key features to check out:

  • Multi-colored flags. There are two types of flags on this map. Orange flags contain “transmission” information from Watney. These include text, images and videos. Yellow flags provide information on the planet and space travel, and include links to content that take you to Bing search results.
  • Transmission clock. There will be at least one new transmission each day*. We’ve added a countdown clock at the top of the map that lets users know when to check back for the next transmission.
  • Mission Control. Click on the Mission Control icon at the bottom-right corner of the map to get more information from Earth.
  • Navigation tools. There’s a set of tools that help you navigate your way around the map, including:
    • Zoom in/out or click and drag for a broader view of the Mars landscape
    • Hover over flags for a sneak peek at the information
    • Scan the Mission Timeline chronologically move along Mark’s journey
    • Explore more on Bing using the navigation at the top of the map, which is the same navigation you’re used to on


Learn about the cast and buy tickets through

We’ve made it easy to discover and preview the movie, as well as see reviews and cast information, all by simply typing “The Martian” into the search bar. You’ll find the trailer at the top of the page, plus top reviews, and links to the cast and related topics. You can find movie times for local theatres and purchase tickets all from this one search**


Use Bing in the Classroom curriculum to teach students about space

While Bing Maps tracks Mark Whitney’s journey across Mars, Bing in the Classroom challenges students to focus on the possibilities of space travel. Lesson plans will center around the science, engineering and language-arts opportunities of space exploration, as well as the ‘what does it take to support life on other planets?’ theme.

Bing in the Classroom provides world class research tools for students, and works with accredited teachers, to create meaningful projects and lesson plans on any topic that align with Common Core standard and 21st century skills. Find our lesson plans here and join us in a great space exploration!

Go to today to start your journey and follow us @Bing as we support the effort to #BingWatneyHome. We’ll be launching new content from September 15 through October 3, so check back daily to see Watney’s progress, learn more about the Martian landscape with Bing, and see the latest news and information coming from Mission Control.

  • The Bing Team

*Final transmission will be published on October 03, 2015.

**The Martian is available in theatres beginning October 2, 2015. Release dates vary by location.

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