Mars One, a Netherlands-based private spaceflight project, announced April 22 that it would begin accepting applications for a one-way mission to colonize Mars; three weeks later, 78,000 people had already signed up. We admit we wondered at the sanity of everyone involved. So we tracked down a few of the applicants and asked them: Why do you want to die on Mars?
Katrina Wolfe, 24, is a video game designer who lives in Los Angeles. You can watch her Mars One application video here.
Popular Science: How would your parents feel about you leaving Earth forever?
Katrina Wolfe: My dad is more excited than my mom. She wouldn't want me to go. When I told my dad about it, he said, "That would be awesome, I want a call from Mars!" But it's funny, because I remember growing up, we would always ask each other the hypothetical question: If Captain Picard beamed down right now and said, "I need you to come to the Enterprise, you have three seconds to decide, and you can never come back." Would you go? My family always said yes.
PS: What would you do on Mars?
KW: I'd love to do desert sailing on Mars, with a wind sail. [Editor's note: Dunno about wind sailing, but you might be able to snowboard on Martian dry ice!] But I know most of our time there would be spent getting the colony to the point of sustainability.
PS: Aren't you worried about dying?
KW: Of course death is a worry to some degree. It's hard to say now. I don't know if I would go if there was, say, a 70 percent chance I wouldn't even get there alive.
PS: Did you ever want to be a NASA astronaut?
KW: In 8th grade I did a project on how to become an astronaut. I knew that trying to become an astronaut would mean becoming an engineer and going through NASA. It appealed to me, but very few people actually get to be an astronaut through that path. At some point I realized I would also love to go into game design. I actually majored in classics and minored in video game design and management. This Mars opportunity is even more appealing than being a NASA astronaut because it's about starting a new civilization.
PS: Do you think this mission actually has a chance of happening?
KW: I know there are a lot of unanswered questions about how we're actually going to survive on Mars, but there's lots of time to figure that out. I think that Mars One can make it happen. Listening to the founders speak, I'm very impressed with their vision for the company. I like that they see Mars as the next big step for humanity.
PS: What will you do if you have to stay on Earth?
KW: I'm very excited by life expectancy research and the singularity. There are a lot of big questions we need to answer as a society; how are we going to deal with robots in our lives? What if we live to be 200? I would try to be involved with questions like this if I couldn't go to Mars.
Read more about the Mars One program here. And stay tuned on PopularScience.com for more interviews with the applicants.
I don't know what it would take to get thru to people that Mars is not anything like it is portrayed in books or movies. Sending people with the expectation that they will not return to Earth would be the same as murder. On top of everything else, they just discovered that the soil contains high levels of toxic material.
It would be dumb to waste all the money to send people when we could just send better rovers. If you want to establish an off world colony, then the moon is the best choice. We can do that for a fraction of the cost and develop solutions for a possible excursion somewhere else. At least the people could escape to Earth if something happened. (like no food or water) Why don't they try to emulate the conditions on Earth and see if it will work?
Most people that do not have serious obligations and/or commitments would go with Picard. That is a no-brainer.
This is not even remotely similar. The real question to ask oneself is if you would go if the chances were 98% that you would not survive the first year. That would include not making it there, crashing, and all the other calamities that might happen if you did land safely. Of course I'm just making up a number, but would you go if that was the chance?
to mars or bust!
well put in your Mars One application. there wont be a lot of options on Mars, so she might just get stuck with you ... dude, the odds are in your favour.
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Why is Mars the first step to colonizing outside of our home planet? Why not build a Lunar space station on the moon first and then colonize Mars? It's been the world's dream to colonize the moon before we even started considering colonizing Mars. Settlement would be easier, if something goes wrong, they won't be waiting nearly as long for aide. How long could our Mars settlers survive before they run out of supplies?
So many interesting questions and possibilities. I think a settlement or outpost on the moon first could teach us a lot before we jump straight to colonizing another planet. If this actually does go through in my lifetime though, I need to be sure to watch them and stay informed on their progress.
I hate to be the one to point things like this out, but you're terribly wrong on almost every count on what you have said about Mars. It would not be murder to send people there, as those who go will have the entire world cheering them on with the best technology that has ever existed. To say this is a assumption that we would abandon them and that is a illogical assumption at that.
Secondly, The moon is the one of the WORST places to put a human colony, not the "best". Mars beats the moon in every aspect in terms of desirability, except proximity. The red planet posses all the materials that a technological society could ever hope to use. Water, Nitrogen, Carbon, Oxygen, Precious Metals, Uranium, and a whole host of others. The Moon has NONE of this, due to the fact it never had geological processes the drive the development of such resources. Mars has a significant gravity well, one that humans could easily adapt to and retain most if not all of their health. The Atmosphere is thin but protects for the more harmful radiation and could one day be thickened to provide additional protection.
The point is. The moon could never be self sufficient, it simply does not have the same resources that Mars does. A short while after a colony is established, it could easily be self sufficient in terms of Food, Water, Metals, and energy. While the moon would always have to import those items. All in all, Mars is actually the second safest place in our solar system, and we must go there.
@saulton7 you're only half correct there, while the decision to colonize mars first is the right idea simply because it's resource rich compared to all the other options going there would not net you much support from the world. for one we don't know if organized religion is going to accept this as anything good or support it. though we have a LARGE scientific community that is interested in this, very few of them have personal assets large enough to stake on the continued operation of a martian base of operations and those that do are quite simply uninterested.
personally i would limit government funding as much as possible we have enough bickering on earth as is and if we try to bring factions to mars too early we could end up destabilizing any chance to ever colonize mars. the governments just wouldn't get along long enough to ensure our survival.
finally public funding would be very insubstantial as literally anything invested into a mars colony probably wouldn't see any return for at least 20 years, and even then it wouldn't be profitable until well past the lifetime of the one making the investment.
right now the two best options for a mars colonization efforts have been described as a cult and a pipe dream respectively by cracked.com.
@the random factor; worth a shot right? i'm sure they're going to need loads of machinists and foundry men over there in the coming years...
to mars or bust!
mehome, you do have a flair for the dramatic. We've had a Mars-emulator site for 40+ years in AZ. Emulation has one significant weakness - it's simply not the same as being there. NASA faced the same issues when training astronauts
to operate at max efficiency in weightless conditions. Yes, NASA has in-water zero G training facilities. As long as the simulators are Earth-bound, they are subject to Earths gravity.
Your toxic soil argument makes no sense, or don't you consider space to be a hostile environment in which to work and travel? How you arrived at your assumption that transporting astronauts and select civilians on a one way flight to Mars is tantamount to murder escapes me. Do you consider watching your family stepping out your front door a murderous act?
I'd go with her!
She's cute, but without genetic modification to prevent muscle atrophy she would look fresh out of a coma within a year, given the 1/3 earth normal gravity. She may want to waitlist this one a decade or so.
Also Popsci, switch to disqus, your comment section is awkward and goofy and it's time to make a transition.
Dear god; a singularity buff interested in anti-senescense who designs video games? If she reads The Multiverse According to Ben and watches Top Gear U.K., PopSci may have just done a piece on the perfect woman.
I take it you don't belong to an organized religion and perhaps don't really know anyone who does. Your superstition gave me a good laugh. The Bajorans might be pissed about planetary colonization, but Catholics?...
mehome, who asked you to 'get through' to the Mars pioneers? You must believe that they are not capable of intelligent, pragmatic thought. Mind your own business and let these pioneers 'pioneer'.
I'd jump at the opportunity to go to Mars, but possess the wisdom to know that eventually I would become a physical burden on my crewmates.
Actually, Mars' gravity is closer to 2/5th's earth gravity, and as a result atrophy may not be as severe as one might imagine. The challenge is to maintain a rigorous exercise regimin during spaceflight to be prepared for the semi-normal gravity she will experience once she is there. Since no one has ever lived in "intermediate" gravity, we cant exactly say for sure, but since the female astronauts in ZERO gravity still looked attractive after an extended period , I think her appearance (and health) will not be significantly affected in that regard.
Oldest trick in the book. Get a pretty girl to come to the party and all of the guys would follow suit.
Actually, pioneer10, if you want to be pedantic (which you clearly do) Mars gravity is 19/50 of Earth's.
And Atrophy is not the biggest concern, its osteoporosis caused by loss of osteoblasts.
and whoever thinks that the Martian atmosphere is sufficient protection from radiation is a fool. The cosmic rays penetrate up to 1 metre below the soil.
That said, I am in favour of colonization. I just don't think that Baz Landthorpe is the man to do it. He couldn't even arrange a decent sound engineer for the MarsOne press conference, so I wouldn't trust his with my life.
This has to be the lamest comment thread on the internet, and that's saying something!
Actually, agapis, I wanted to be optimistic, not pedantic (yeah, I looked it up, I will never be any kind of authority on either space or the english language). Thanks for the correction on the exact effects of microgravity on bone tissue. I still like to think that Mars' gravity (be it 38% or whatever) will be high enough that the body will not really be much different than on Earth-to the point that people on Mars (even for many years) can return to Earth if they want to. I also still think their greatest obstacle will be the trip out-or back.
"One way astronaut" is a death sentence. And that's OK. But rather than send innocent fools, send life sentence / death-row inmates. Collect volunteers who are sentenced to life in prison (or on death-row) from all the world's prisons, psychologically test them for compatibility (this must be done anyway) and send those people to Mars. "You can spend the remainder of your miserable life here in prison on Earth, or you can become a freeman on Mars; a star among the stars."
In sending plain-folk volunteers, I wonder about the legality of sending them on a one way trip - no doubt to their earlier than planned doom. And that sending no-chance-of-parole volunteer inmates may get around that issue.
Murphy's law will rule this endeavor. The publicity of watching a bunch of young scientist/explorer types die on video - and most or all will - will financially destroy any company that sent them. But sending the criminally doomed to die a different doom - well, they were already condemned right? But at least they died heroes.
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I would like to visit Mars -- but not on a suicide mission.
Space, and Mars, is incredibly hostile to life. To be viable and successful, a Mars mission would require the pre-positioning of an enormous amount of supplies and facilities -- including an enormous amount of water, and the equipment to recapture it after use and re-purify it. The same with air.
And to survive and prosper will require an on-site support team equivalent to a small town at minimum, or a small city at best -- no intrepid "pioneer" going solo.
I think this can be done, and should be, in small steps with way-stations along the way.
Anonymole, Murphy's Law rules in any situation.
I would go in a heart beat!
Not too bright ...but cute!
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Yeah, condemn your, future crazy, children to live and die on a lonely and hostile planet. Why not just get your tubes tied or have a vasectomy and then all of you go live together in Antarctica for the rest of your selfish lives. If fantasizing about unrestrained sexual orgies beyond the laws of our planet is the real crazy reason for wanting to live and die on Mars then good-bye.