What is the Chopra Cloud in Spaceman? Is it Real?

In Netflix’s science fiction film ‘Spaceman,’ Jakub Procházka is a Czech cosmonaut who has set out to study the Chopra Cloud, a solar phenomenon that appeared in the sky four years before his mission. Jakub’s commanding officer Tuma calls it the “Purple Specter” due to its color and the lack of details or information concerning it. Jakub, as the representative of the Czech Republic, aims to collect the particles of the cloud before the South Korean space team achieves the feat. Even though our solar system is filled with captivating entities such as the Chopra Cloud, it doesn’t have an exact real-life counterpart! SPOILERS AHEAD.

The Mystery Behind the Chopra Cloud

In ‘Spaceman,’ the Chopra Cloud is a mysterious entity. In the first few minutes of the movie, Jakub Procházka addresses a crowd organized by Commissioner Tuma, on behalf of the Euro Space Program, and makes it clear that he would be able to unravel the secrets behind the phenomenon once he collects the particles that form the cloud and analyzes them. However, his efforts to collect the samples fail, which stops him and the world from knowing what really is the Chopra Cloud. While the film concludes its narrative without offering an explicit explanation regarding the entity, Jaroslav Kalfař’s ‘Spaceman of Bohemia,’ the source text of the movie, provides the readers with much more clarity.

In Kalfař’s novel, the Chopra Cloud is formed by a sandstorm. “Nearly a year and a half ago, a previously undiscovered comet had entered the Milky Way from the Canis Major galaxy and swept our solar system with a sandstorm of intergalactic cosmic dust. A cloud had formed between Venus and Earth, an unprecedented phenomenon named Chopra by its discoverers in New Delhi, and bathed Earth’s nights in purple zodiacal light, altering the sky we had known since the birth of man,” reads the source material. Even though Kalfař explains the entity, Colby Day’s screenplay for the film doesn’t include it.

In the movie, the Chopra Cloud becomes a window to the universe for Jakub to understand its vastness. The man who embarked on a mission to achieve new heights as a cosmonaut, putting his life and relationship with his wife Lenka on the line, enters it and understands how insignificant his potential achievements are. The Cloud makes him perceive that he is nothing more than a dust particle in the endless space, which leads him to kill his ambition and arrogance. “I was the series of particles released by Chopra’s core,” Jakub says in the novel. As he travels through the huge cloud, Jakub learns that nothing but relationships matter, only for him to call Lenka to let her know that he would have stayed with her if he had known the same.

Hanuš, an extraterrestrial spider who becomes Jakub’s companion, describes the cloud as a place where no one would need to hurt anybody. As far as the alien creature, who spends his time on Earth’s orbit to learn how human beings live, is concerned, Jakub’s destructive ambition and lack of empathy, which are universal characteristics, caused the pain experienced by the cosmonaut and his wife. When he travels through the entity, his selfishness evaporates and it becomes meaningless to hurt someone over something that seems insignificant when viewed from the cloud.

The Fictional Chopra Cloud

The Chopra Cloud is a fictional solar entity created by Jaroslav Kalfař for his novel ‘Spaceman of Bohemia.’ In the film, the Chopra Cloud appears as a nebula, a distinct luminescent part of an interstellar medium. The “Ghost of Jupiter” or NGC 3242 is the most prominent nebula near Jupiter. Located in the constellation Hydra, it is a planetary nebula with a central white dwarf. Unlike the Chopra Cloud, the Ghost of Jupiter is pale blue-green. The cooler outer halo of its dying star is also seen in red. Considering these differences, the Chopra Cloud doesn’t seem to have any connection with the Ghost of Jupiter.

Screenwriter Colby Day made several differences to the original Chopra Cloud Kalfař created for his novel, starting with its nature. In the literary work, the cloud is self-destructive. “[…] a new behavior was observed in the cloud: it began to consume itself, the mass of its outer layers dissipating and vanishing inside the thicker core. Some spoke of antimatter, others assigned the cloud organic properties,” reads the book. “The purple glow of Chopra still remained, though it was weakening, collapsing in on itself and saying its last good-bye to the Earthlings dying to know its secrets,” Kalfař added in his novel.

Read More: How Old is Hanuš the Spider? How Does it Get into the Spaceship?