Mars One May Be a Huge Zero
The Mars One mission selected 100 applicants from an alleged pool of 200,000 people with the intention of sending them on a one way mission to Mars. To fund this mission, they were planning a reality show to narrow down the final applicants to help fund the mission. On February 20th of this year that mission was scrubbed in the face of a contract negotiation stalemate.
Things are looking even worse for the likeliness of the mission as Dr. Joseph Roche, an astrophysicist and one of the finalists, recently spoke to Matter about the bizarre progression of events following his application to the Mars One project.
Roche objected to apparent uncritical media attention toward the project beginning with the number of total applicants for the project, a mere 2,761 instead of 200,000. He also described his application process, an in-person interview changed to a 10-minute Skype call following his signature on an NDA. He was required to obtain a physical that he arranged himself and quizzed on rote details of the mission that he was given a month to memorize. Upon application, people immediately became part of the “Mars One Community” where they were encouraged to purchase merchandise in exchange for ‘points.’ Once selected, finalists were asked to donate 75% of their profit from speaking appearances back to Mars One. According to Roche, the top hopefuls for acceptance to the project are incidentally those who have accumulated the most points in the Mars One Community.
At this point, Roche hasn’t met any other candidates in person, or anyone from Mars One for that matter.
As article author Elmo Keep put it,
So, here are the facts as we understand them: Mars One has almost no money. Mars One has no contracts with private aerospace suppliers who are building technology for future deep-space missions. Mars One has no TV production partner. Mars One has no publicly known investment partnerships with major brands. Mars One has no plans for a training facility where its candidates would prepare themselves. Mars One’s candidates have been vetted by a single person, in a 10-minute Skype interview.
I can’t say that I’m especially surprised; a mission to Mars involves challenges that we are not quite ready to face technologically. The trip could take six months, the mission would have an enormous payload of food and oxygen, and a safe landing in a thin atmosphere may be tough to manage. If radiation, starvation, lack-of-oxygen, and a crash landing are not enough to kill you, the dust could. Even if colonists aren’t breathing the dust outside, it is extremely fine and would likely cling to everything.
If When it follows astronauts into their habitation unit, it can either cause all kinds of health problems or clog the air filters.
It is really fun to imagine going to Mars though. And we should keep imagining, dreaming, planning, and doing all kinds of science to get ourselves there. Even if we don’t get there for a long time, there are certainly plenty of spillover benefits to these kinds of initiatives.
You can also read the wonderfully imaginative book The Martian by Andy Weir and hang out on Mars from the comfort of your own living room.
By Alkuin at de.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons