After careful deliberation, we have chosen the winners for our re-entry competition: which ATV is seen in the film Gravity and what does the frog symbolise?

Thanks to all for sending in your answers, we definitely enjoyed reading them and were quite overwhelmed by the response!

We only have one special prize, however, so we have to be strict in deciding. Entries via ESA’s Friends of Facebook page were discounted, as the challenge clearly said to reply via the blog.

ATV-2 logo

ATV-2 logo

At ESA, we have had many lunch-time conversations about the film Gravity and the general consensus is that ATV Johannes Kepler, also known as ATV-2, is the spacecraft seen in the film.

In the movie, the logo on our favourite spacecraft is light blue. Chance Wen commented on Facebook: “And on top of that, the film was in early production around 2011, which coincides with the launch of ATV-2.”

This decision might come as a surprise, but editors’ decision is final (we’ve argued this enough over lunch already… :-).)

So the winner is:

ATV 2 Johannes Kepler (considering the time they started making the movie).
The frog symbolizes Stone’s rebirth: the frog is swimming to the surface, just like Stone is about to. She stopped living when her daughter died, and now that she survived and is back on Earth, she overcame her child’s death and can start a new life.
Also, the frog is the first living being we see when Stone arrives on Earth, and since it’s a tiny form of life it opposes the vastness of space.

ToraTiger wins a vintage ATV-2 rucksack. The following runners-up get an ATV-4 baseball cap:

Jakub Cranmer:
I have not seen the film, but my guess is that it’s ATV-2
And the frog symbolises one small step for Jeffrey the frog, one giant leap for frog-kind (see what I did there with the ‘leap’?)

Marco Langbroek:
The ATV is ATV-5 “George Lemaître”. In the movie, it is docked to the ISS along with a Soyuz identified by Ryan (when she tries to radio Houston of her intent to get to Tiangong) as “Soyuz TMA-14M”. The latter Soyuz exists and will be launched to the ISS in September 2014, suggesting an ATV docked in the second half of 2014. In June 2014, ATV-5 will be launched. So the timetable matches.
And then the frog… Ryan (Bullock) is escaping from the sinking Chinese Shenzou reentry module when the frog appears, so it seems logic to me to look for a meaning in Chinese culture.
In Chinese Feng-Shui, frogs or toads stand for immortality and good news. Given that Bullock has just survived an ordeal no ordinary human would survive, this fits quite well.
In Chinese Feng Shui, frogs/toads (Jin Chan the Money frog) also stand for a guaranteed money flow. Given the success of ‘Gravity’ in the Box Office, I bet that will come true for Bullock as well…

I think that the one showed in Gravity is ATV 3 Edoardo Amaldi, also because the images used to make the movie cannot be very new, and considerating also that ATV 5 has not been launched yet!
 My interpretation of the final (poetic) scene of the movie is this:
 Astronaut Ryan doesn’t land in a town, neither in a urbanised area of our Planet.
 She lands in a place where life exist in a simple and genuine way, in a place where the Earth is still as it was when first humans were born.
 She survived in a really complex adventure at the edge of human technology, but landing on water she risks to die drowning, as a common and wild creature.
 Ryan, an human creature, swims to save herself in the same, exact way the frog swimmed just before.
 Their swimstyle, for a moment, appears so similar, so basic.
 In that moment we understand that at the end we are all creatures of Earth.
 Humans are so complex, so elaborated.
 But, at the same time, they are so simple, so similar to other creatures.
 Humans still have a lot in common with their planet mates, like the swimming frog symbolizes.
 Humans can go very far, they can both build magnificient things and destroy them, they can live in hubrys, but they can’t forget their origins.
 Because we, as Humans, carry them in ourselves.
And this is wonderful.
This how I interpretated the final scene!

It´s ATV-5.
What I thought the frog symbolized is the origins, evolution and progress of humankind. All life comes from water, and the frog symbolized the amphibians that took that step from water to a terrestrial habitat.
It´s a metaphor to compare it to astronauts: they´re the ones exploring outside of their natural habitat, like the frog 🙂

Finally, two entries from ESA’s Friends page in Facebook will receive a key chain and ATV-4 peppermints, because we liked them so much and they bought our attention to the LADEE photo-bombing frog!

Iván Sumelzo Martínez:
The frog is just the same one that enjoyed the LADEE’s lunch just few meters away.
It’s called Gustavo, a lover of space and definitely it wanted to become the first living being saying hello Dr. Ryan Stone.

[youtube VQnJhFJvdhQ]

Chance Wen:
It’s the ATV-2. After watching the film a second time, I noticed a part of the logo on the vehicle and it was light blue. And on top of that, the film was in early production around 2011, which coincides with the launch of ATV-2.
The frog is a symbol of transformation. It swimming from the depths parallels Dr. Stone’s internal journey from her previous broken conscience to a fundamental rebirth (not religiously) after the entire disaster unfolded.

The winners are invited to send us their postal address via the ATV blog contact form.

Thanks to all for taking part!