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When the Prometheus enters the LV-223 atmosphere, the crew starts to look for a place to land.

The planet was big. They would have to have incredible luck to go into the atmosphere where actually the structure was, or at least very close to them.

How is such luck possible? Is there any more explanation to it?

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Basically, they were following natural/artificial terrain cues that the Engineers also likely followed or left behind:

  • They spotted a massive mountain peak (52,000 feet) that jutted above the clouds, so they used that as their point of entry.
  • During descent they detected large "hard spots" in their terrain data that they speculated were likely metal and continued towards it along the mountain valley.
  • They then came across some large canyons and entered through an obvious opening. Immediately after, the computer indicated some linear structures on the ground, which caught Holloway's eye ("God does not build in straight lines").
  • Following this canyon valley leads them to the large domish/pyramid structures.

Obviously this sequence has been abbreviated for dramatic effect. In reality, they most likely would have spent an hour or two trying to map the planet from high orbit, and, if not, they probably would have circled the planet a few times below the cloud layer to find the most promising landing spot.

But when you watch the sequence, it's not hard to imagine that the Engineers probably also encountered the lone mountain peak jutting through the clouds, decided to enter at that point, and then simply followed the natural contours of the terrain to arrive at their canyon protected building site.

In the grand scheme of things, this sort of "luck" isn't that hard to explain. It's similar to how wildlife pathways form in nature. There aren't signs or surveys or detailed planning by the wildlife. But the characteristics of the terrain encourage certain travel/migration paths.

  • I think i will need to bet on "luck" this time, there just no hard evidence in the movie. Despite you efforts, for me it is just hard to explain how such tiny ship compared to planets size can just enter the atmosphere into the right place. I was just looking for something that i have missed, sad its nothing there, maybe Ridley Scott wants it this way, quick jump to action. Still a great movie to me. – Programista Oct 10 '13 at 22:55
  • They definitely got lucky to find the location so quickly, but the size of the ship doesn't make it any more or less likely. What would affect their chances are: the range of their sensors, the speed of the vehicle, and the size/detectability of the Engineers' ships, which are quite large, and we later find out that there was more than one. I mean, if there were a half dozen ships located around the mountain, then a fast ship with very good sensors might have a good chance of finding one of them fairly quickly. – Lèse majesté Oct 11 '13 at 5:11
  • The implication is that the different ships are offworld, not elseewhere on the planet. Again, this is not explicitly stated, but is heavily implied. – James Sheridan Oct 11 '13 at 7:20
  • I'd like to correct my previous comment. Upon reviewing the film earlier this evening, there are in fact other ships on the same planet. The perils of discussing a film one hasn't watched in several months. – James Sheridan Oct 12 '13 at 12:46
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The film also mistakenly stated that LV-223 was about as distant from Earth as Jupiter rather than in a distant star system, because Damon Lindelof doesn't know mathematics. There is no explanation in the film for how or why the crew chooses the landing site that they do. It's just poor writing, which is to be expected in Lindelof's work.

There may well have been an explanation in the original Jon Spaihts script, as many of Prometheus's more baffling plot-holes were explained in that script, but I unfortunately do not recall. It might still be online, somewhere, though when I last looked it had been taken down. It's worth a look, if you can find it.

  • Xenopedia says it's 34.6 light-years away. What figure/line are you citing from the movie? – Lèse majesté Oct 7 '13 at 14:35
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    @Lèsemajesté blastr.com/2012/06/neil_degrasse_tyson_gives.php – calccrypto Oct 7 '13 at 15:39
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    Sounds like it could be intentionally loose dialog, rather than the scriptwriters actually thinking LV-223 would be literally 0.5 billion miles away. – Paul D. Waite Oct 7 '13 at 16:24
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    I have to agree with Paul. All evidence points to that line being deliberate. Aside from Lindelof's statement that it was deliberate, in the context of the dialog, she clearly wasn't trying to locate LV-223 but simply make the point that she's far away from every man on Earth. The dialog sounds a lot more natural as is than if she had said "2.03396094 × 10^14 miles". – Lèse majesté Oct 8 '13 at 13:44
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    This is just one of many obvious plot holes in this film movieplotholes.com/prometheus.html – roryok Oct 8 '13 at 15:16

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