Most people, when they think about a dream home, fantasize about a place where the air is clean and the grass is green. There’s another sort of person, however, for whom toxic air and a completely barren, lifeless soil is just the ticket. This second sort is supplying the volunteers for humankind’s next leap forward… to colonize the planet Mars.
A little over a month ago, a small organization calling itself Mars One pledged that it would, in just a few years, send a small group of people to become the first colonists of Mars. The catch: It would be a one-way trip. The colonists would never have the chance to return to Earth. They would die on Mars.
When I heard about Mars One, I didn’t think that many people would be willing to go to live in a tiny little settlement on a remarkably inhospitable planet. Just today, a new study published in the journal Science revealed that data collected during the delivery of the robotic rover Curiosity to Mars show that the journey from Earth to Mars could itself be deadly, because of high amounts of solar radiation.
However, despite the many dangers and deprivations inherent in such a journey, large numbers of people have applied to join the mission. Tens of thousands have entered their names as candidates for Mars One.
What kind of people are asking to go on this mission? They’re a rather mixed bag.
There’s Martin Ariem Ramsey Solis, who says that because the initials of his name spell M.A.R.S., “now I believe that going to Mars just might be my destiny.”
“I have done everything I want to do in life,” says applicant Lori Ellen Barrow. So, that means that she doesn’t want to go to Mars, right? She wishes she could have been a psychiatrist.
Joseph, a 61 year-old man who is twice-divorced, says that he knows that he has the right temperament to live in close quarters with a small group of other people on Mars. How does he know? He’s a member of MENSA, so he has the brainpower to just reason it out.
“I hope to imagine the things awaiting us,” says Earl from New Mexico. Of course, he could do that right now. He believes he’s qualified because he knows “a whole little bit about a whole lot of things.”
Jennifer, a nurse from Australia, notes that she will be of retirement age at the time when the Mars One spacecraft leaves Earth, and thinks that Mars would be a lovely place to retire. Also, she notes that her pets are already old, and she doesn’t plan on getting any new ones, which would make the trip to Mars easier for her.
“Red is my favourite colour so how nice would I look on Mars,” says Melissa, a 52 year-old transsexual candidate from Britain. “It takes a lot of balls to do it. I had my balls removed, so I ain’t going to lose them.”
Terressa, a Qigong trainer, wants to go to a planet where no humans have ever set foot so that she can “truly see what humanity is”. She does “energy work” in which she specializes in “following moon phases”. Does she know how to interpret the phases of Phobos and Deimos, though?