Selected from more than 200,000 applicants, 50 men and 50 women have become the final contenders for a one-way trip to Mars. A Dutch not-for-profit company is planning to send groups of four people on a one-way trip to the red planet in about a decade to start a permanent human settlement – now, we can take a better look at those people.

A one-way ticket to Mars

Maggie, one of the 100 selected participants. Image via BBC.

We wrote about the Mars One project several times – the goal is to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars; naturally, for that, you need some people willing to take the one-way trip. They decided to sent 40 people there, which will be selected from this list of 100 people. The mission aims to send teams of four to the red planet every two years from 2025, until 40 people are living there. The controversial project attracted over 200,000 applicants.

“The large cut in candidates is an important step towards finding out who has the right stuff to go to Mars,” said Bas Lansdorp, Co-founder & CEO of Mars One. “These aspiring martians provide the world with a glimpse into who the modern day explorers will be.”

This will be the last selection stage – previously, these 100 candidates were selected from 660, based on how well they understand the risks involved in the mission, their team spirit and how motivated they are.

“We were impressed with how many strong candidates participated in the interview round, which made it a very difficult selection” said Dr. Norbert Kraft.

Artist’s impression of the Mars One camp. Image via Mars One.

Now, Mars One has to choose from 50 men and 50 women: 39 from the Americas, 31 from Europe, 16 from Asia, 7 from Africa, and 7 from Oceania. For the next selection stage, volunteers will be split into groups which will have to endure tough conditions in a similar environment to that on Mars. They will be judged based on how well they will deal with those conditions.

“Being one of the best individual candidates does not automatically make you the greatest team player, so I look forward to seeing how the candidates progress and work together in the upcoming challenges.” said Dr. Norbert Kraft.

The candidates

As mentioned above, candidates are quite varied, but they have one thing in common: they want to spend the rest of their lives on Mars, and they truly believe in the scientific value of this mission; it’s not just an extraterrestrial camping trip.

“I believe the potential benefits of the Mars One project far outweigh the potential costs it may have to me, personally”, wrote Christian O Knudsen, the top rated candidate. “I believe these benefits will be scientific progress, which can benefit all of us on Earth, if you compare the Mars One mission to the moon landing, I think scientific progress, on a similar scale to what we experienced following that endeavour, is a reasonable expectation.”


The project is still not a certainty though, as they need to raise around £4bn to send up the first group. So far it’s raised around £500,000 – not even remotely enough to start dreaming about it yet. Maggie Lieu, a 24-year-old from Coventry is another one of the finalists. She says that thanks to the internet, she’ll still be able to keep in contact with family and friends.

“It’s true I’ll never be able to see my family and friends ever again in person, but I’ll be able to see their pictures, I’ll still have access to the internet. I can write emails home and talk as humans do all over the world. That’ll be good enough for me because the people I’d go to Mars with I’d have spent 10 years with”.

She’s also very open to the idea of having a Martian baby – this, while interesting from a scientific point of view, is extremely dangerous and not recommended.

“I’m very open to having a baby on Mars. I think it would be really exciting to be the mother of the first ever baby born there. My baby could be the first ever Martian, we’d be the Adam and Eve of Mars. But I’m also pretty aware there are a lot of risks involved because you don’t know what the gravitational effects are.”

However, given the fact that one of the requirements of the mission is “no sex”, it’s not really clear how she plans to give birth to a baby. As for the food, it will be mostly a vegan diet, with some insect protein involved – at least that’s what Maggie believes.

“We’re going to grow our own food so it’s going to be pretty much a vegan diet. Lettuce has been experimented on and grown on Mars. Potentially we could be eating insects because they’ve got high protein so we could take an ant farm or something and eat ants. I don’t really crave much.”

Gunnar Prehl from Cairns, Australia was also extremely excited – he was brought to tears when he learned that he is among the last 100 contenders.

“It could be the biggest adventure humans have ever done, it could be the most inspiring thing I can imagine,” he said. “I mean who wouldn’t want to be the first to step on another planet?”

So, what do you think – would you be willing to live the rest of your life on Mars, or is this too big of a sacrifice? What do you think of the entire mission? Leave your opinion in the comments!

 

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