Mars One is a Dutch-based venture, founded in 2011, and hopes to establish a human settlement on the red planet. According to the team’s website, the trip could help with our “… understanding of the origins of the solar system, the origins of life and our place in the universe.” With applications pouring in thick and fast, we take a look at the Mars One adventure and the process of candidate selection.
The website outlines a “road map” of Mars One, with the ultimate goal of landing the first voluntary crew members on Mars by 2023. The application process still rages on, but, once completed, the crew will initiate full-time training within a matter of years. As a part of this training regime, applicants will be subjected to prolonged periods of isolation in a remote area. In addition, training will focus on honing essential survival skills, with participants learning how to sustain a food source, repair critical components and perform medical procedures.
So far, there has been interest from over 165,000 individuals from 140 countries. However, the number of full applicants is much lower, likely ranging in the thousands, perhaps due to the lengthy application requirements. The application process necessitates a registration fee of $38, alongside the participant’s personal details, completion of a questionnaire and the production of a resume and “motivational letter.”
On top of this, candidates must also upload a short video highlighting how they would be fit for the Mars One project. The following is an example of one of the many hopefuls, who describes his character, humour and suitability for the undertaking.
Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp is already acutely aware of the fact that the candidate selection for the adventure has been exaggerated by some news outlets. The total number of people that fully complete the rigorous application process, and then go on to pay the registration fee, is much lower than the number of people who take the foremost step of imparting their personal details; essentially, people who start their application don’t always successfully complete them.
According to NewSpace Journal, strangely, Lansdorp still classifies these individuals as applicants:
“They are people who want to go to Mars… We want to call them applicants… These are people who still want to go to Mars and who we consider applicants.”
Excitingly, a demonstration mission will be performed by as early as 2016, with a high-bandwidth communication satellite being dispatched to facilitate uninterrupted communication between Earth and Mars. The hope is that this satellite will be capable of relaying all kinds of data to the surface of Mars, including images and video feeds.
A little further ahead, a Rover will be deployed to scout the area for a suitable outpost location and will be capable of carrying small parts. The region is then cleared and prepared, ready for the site’s solar panels and main site structures, whilst a second rover becomes responsible for transportation of landing capsules. The final location depends upon three factors:
- Availability of water
- Strength of solar power
It is expected the outpost will be fully functional by 2021, with a total of six cargo units landing near the main outpost site. Mars One has already formed contracts with Paragon Space Development Corporation, which should enable conceptual design of some of the life support architecture.
A host of landing capsules are required for the mission’s success, which will be required for transportation of the following:
- Life Support Units: critical for energy generation, water and air
- Supplies: sustenance, spare components and solar panels
- Human beings
- Living Units: replete with inflatable habitats
Ultimately, the Rover will be responsible for using Life Support Systems to extract water from the Martian soil, through oven-based evaporation of the subsurface ice; some of the evaporated water is then condensed and stored, ready for the crew members’ arrival, whereas another proportion of the fluid is used for oxygen generation.
NBC News describes how the next stage of the volunteers’ selection process could involve something akin to “American Idol.” Taking a look at the Mars One website reveals the corporation’s plans, during their proposed third round, for deciding an individual’s candidacy:
“This round is the regional selection round, which could be broadcast on TV and internet in countries around the world… The audience will select one winner per region and Mars One experts will select additional participants to continue to round four.”
Individuals who do decide they wish to become space trail-blazers are not guaranteed a return trip, however; Mars One organizers claim it would be logistically difficult to achieve this, and the new Martian residents would need to pave the way for others to join their permanent residence. None-the-less, the Mars One adventure represents a spectacular opportunity for those applicants willing to commit their entire lives. The process will be a long and difficult affair, but one that will be well worth the trials.
Mars One is accepting applications until 31 August 2013. If you think you have what it takes, the link is still open.
By: James Fenner