BY CHRISTOPHER ESSNER
Have you ever found yourself looking up to the stars on a clear night wondering what is out there; wondering what is waiting for us? Did you have a dream of being an astronaut as a child- to be the next Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldrin? Do you consider yourself an adventurous person willing to put up with extreme conditions and risk? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live on another planet?
If you answered yes to these questions above, you may have your wish come true. Mars One is looking for and has already received applicants to be a part of the team that will set up a colony on our Red neighbor. So what’s the catch? Well, if selected you would be unable to return to Earth.
The Mars One team will spend an extended period of time in space and on the smaller planet. The weaker gravitational field will cause astronauts to lose bone and muscle mass, making a return to Earth next to impossible.Solar wind and radiation are also a major risk for the selected astronauts. Earth is protected by a magnetic field that protects people from harmful sun rays and radiation. The magnetic field on Mars no longer exists.
Land conditions on Mars are not to be envied either. There is no known liquid water on the Martian surface, and the atmosphere is not all that hospitable either. NASA astronaut Stan Loves now stationed in Antarctica says the South Pole is a walk in the park compared to what Mars One astronauts will be forced to deal with.
“It’s full of water; you can go outside and breathe air. [Antarctica] is a paradise compared to Mars and yet nobody has moved there permanently,” he said in an interview with BBC.
The mission would require an enormous amount of ongoing public support. The Mars One colony would consist of a domes structure covered in soil to protect the team against radiation. They would be powered by solar panels, and would use recycled water to drink and grow food. The initial mission is expected to cost about $6 billion, and would require subsequent missions of new colonists every two years to bring new supplies and make repairs.
“It’s about having the political will and the financial muscle to make this happen. That’s what nobody has been able to solve so far,” Dr. Chris Lintott, from Oxford University, explains in an interview with BBC.
In a time when many governments are still struggling to climb out of a recession this project may be too much for their citizens to bite. Others believe that the people of our planet can regain an interest in the exploration of space.
“During the Apollo era you didn’t need government programs trying to convince people that doing science and engineering is good for the country. It was self-evident,” says astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Mars One hopes he is right and believes they have an answer. They will fill the mission as a reality show as the team makes history building the first Martian colony. Think of it as a Big Brother-like experience in which every second of these astronauts lives will be filmed for the viewing public.
“This will be the biggest thing that humanity has ever done. In 15 years people will still be watching,” says Mars One cofounder Bas Landsorp.
It was not long ago people wondered whether humans would ever reach Mars, let alone establish a colony on its surface. Mars One is proving there is an interest right now as they receive more and more applications every day. A restored interest in space could prove viable should this added television venture prove to be successful.