Salvation on CBS: Why Neil DeGrasse Tyson said show takes science seriously

Salvation titles showing the name of the show and a fiery asteroid heading for Earth
The team behind Salvation did a lot of research into the science behind an asteroid hitting Earth

Salvation premiered last week and follows the drama as the Earth’s scientists and governments try to save the planet from a huge asteroid that is due to impact in six months.

The government know about the impact but are keeping things under wraps to avoid panic. Deputy of Defense Harris Edwards (Ian Anthony Dale) heads up a top secret plan that the government hopes will lead to them being able to deflect the asteroid.

However, they are not alone in their efforts and MIT student Liam Cole (Charlie Rowe) has teamed up with tech magnate Darius Tanz (Santiago Cabrera) to do what they can to save the world. The show follows these two different groups who both have the same goal.

Operations room showing screens with asteroid on it
The Pentagon want to shut down anyone else who knows the truth

Science fiction TV shows are no stranger to our screen but more often than not their actual science leaves a lot to be desired. Another recent exception to this has been the adapted book series The Expanse, which also sticks fairly close to science where it is possible.

Screens showing various asteroid graphics and numbers
Lots of data and numbers, but how accurate is it science wise?

Talking about Salvation astrophysicist and TV presenter Neil DeGrasse Tyson said that he likes the show because it takes the scientists and their work seriously. He also think it shows them as real people, not just lab coats there for the purpose of the plot moving on. He was so impressed he even agreed to a cameo on the pilot episode.

The actual danger to the Earth from a large asteroid hit is all too real. We know that the planet has been hit many times fairly large rocks and a few times it has been hit by one big enough to cause an extinction level event. 65 million years ago the Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction occurred and although climate change had already been causing problems for many species already, the impact of the Yucatan Peninsula asteroid seems to have tipped the scales.

Scientists currently track thousands of near-Earth objects and governments like the U.S. do have plans to deal with any of these if they started heading for Earth. Both NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies and ESA’s Space Situational Awareness operation compute the orbits of comets and asteroids and the chances of them hitting the Earth.

Of course no TV show is ever going to be 100% scientifically accurate as they have a story to tell in an exciting manner, so often timescales are shrunk and details changed to make things run a little smoother.

The series also stars Jennifer Finnigan, Jacqueline Byers and Rachel Drance.

Salvation airs Wednesdays at 9:00 PM on CBS.

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