Atlas: Is GR-39 a Real Planet in Andromeda Galaxy?

The Netflix action-adventure film, ‘Atlas,’ revolving around Artificial Intelligence, transports the viewers into a futuristic human society defined by its familiarity with high technology. However, an unwanted by-product of the technological advance emerges as a rogue AI soldier, Harlan, decides to bring about the end of humanity’s reign over Earth. However, the bot and his army go deep into space after their initial catastrophic attack, scheming in the shadows. Thus, once data analyst Atlas Shepherd, possessing a rich history with Harlan— and a deep mistrust of AI— tracks the soldier down to another galaxy, she joins the team delegated to an attack mission.

Consequently, Atlas ends up in an exoplanet in the Andromeda Galaxy known as GR-39, which humanity had yet left unexplored. Thus, stuck on an alien planet with an impossible enemy, Atlas is left with no choice but to team up with an AI machine suit, Smith, to have a fighting chance against Harlan. As the narrative follows Atlas and Smith’s extraterrestrial adventures, it paints a vivid image of GR-39 for the viewers, compelling them to wonder if a similar planet exists in real life.

GR-39: An Imaginative World Inside The Andromeda Galaxy

‘Atlas’ charts a sci-fi-driven narrative, creating an advanced world to depict a story about the war between Artificial Intelligence and Humanity. Interestingly, most of this war occurs on a planet that exists in an entirely different galaxy outside of the Milky Way. GR-39, a planet in the Andromeda Galaxy, remains the primary backdrop for Atlas’ fight for humanity’s survival against Harlan. The AI soldier chose GR-39 for its hidden disposition within the universe as well as its environment, which remains inhabitable for humans without aid. Therefore, even though the human race has made technological progress to allow them to travel to a planet in the Andromeda Galaxy, they haven’t ventured to GR-39, leaving it open to Harlan’s colonization.

While the film’s futuristic narrative allows such circumstances to unfold, the real world presents a decidedly different picture. In real life, scientists remain confident that numerous planets exist in the Andromeda Galaxy— the nearest galaxy to the Milky Way. Nevertheless, according to a paper published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, any planets in neighboring galaxies would appear to be overwhelmingly small as per our current space exploratory capabilities due to their sheer distance from Earth. For the same reason, scientists haven’t yet detected any planet in the Andromeda Galaxy or any other galaxy outside of the Milky Way.

Consequently, GR-39 remains a strictly fictionalized element within the similarly fictitious narrative of ‘Atlas.’ Reportedly, the film’s director, Brad Peyton, was inspired by the visualization in ‘Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi,’ wherein forests, deserts, and such were employed to depict alien galaxies. Consequently, he wanted GR-39 to present a planet ripe with imagination. “I’m like, we don’t have to do that here,” Peyton told The Wrap in reference to the usual icy planets one encounters in contemporary sci-fi action movies. “We actually should do the opposite of that. We should show her [Atlas] traverse all these ecosystems.”

As such, the on-screen reality of GR-39 was born, with the film engaging in various wondrous elements— from looming ringed planets and eclectic flora to deep-held caverns. Although this makes for a compelling, adventurous image, it isn’t based in any way on real-life scientific findings about exoplanets. Therefore, GR-39 ultimately remains confined to the film’s narrative and lacks any relation to reality.

Read More: Netflix’s Atlas: All Filming Locations Explored