Sunday, 13 October 2013

Humans On Mars in 2023 - Would You Go?

By now, many of you have heard of the Mars One organization (based in the Netherlands) and their colossal undertaking to send astronauts to Mars and establish the first settlement on the red planet. This project has received significant support from both the scientific community and the general public. In fact, the call for volunteers to live out the rest of their lives on the cold, hostile planet generated over 200,000 applications from people in over 140 different countries. 

Though this may sound like science fiction to some, the technology to send people to Mars already exists. The real challenge facing the Dutch entrepreneur and CEO, Bas Lansdorp, will be to find the financial backing to fund this endeavor. The estimated cost for this one-way trip is around 6 billion USD, and that's not including the cost it will take to maintain human settlers for the rest of their lives. So how does Bas Lansdorp plan to fund Mars One? Buy turning it into a long-term, global reality TV event, beginning with the astronaut selection.

I'll be honest, the idea of going to the red planet and becoming one of the first human settlers (Martian!) on Mars fascinates me. So much so, that when I heard the deadline for the application had passed, a small part of me was disappointed. Can you just imagine how amazing it would be to look out onto a completely different horizon and watch dual moons move across the sky. Or see Earth as a tiny speck of light in a sea of cosmic darkness? Of course, I would never seriously consider going to Mars but . . . if I didn't have children . . . maybe I would. I started thinking about my life and going to Mars wasn't that difficult to wrap my head around.  Astronauts will have access to the internet (limited with a seven minute delay) but one could still communicate with family and friends. Heck, I already depend on the internet to talk to family and friends from around the world, what's another 34 million more miles? And can you just imagine--blogging from Mars! :D But as I get older I realize, much to my chagrin just how many of my dreams will never come to fruition. Sounds a bit depressing but, c'est la vie folks. 

Anyway, it'll still be amazing to be part of a generation that gets to see it happen. Here's the general projected timeline of the Mars One project (source wikipedia - Mars One):

SpaceX Dragon: source Wikipedia
2013: a replica of the settlement will be built for training purposes.

2015: The astronaut selection process will be completed; six teams of four. They begin a 7 year training program for the mission.

2016: A supply mission will be launched with 2,500 kilograms (5,500 lb) of food in a 5-metre (16 ft) diameter variant of the SpaceX Dragon.

2018: An exploration vehicle will launch to pick the location of the settlement.

2021: Six additional Dragon capsules and another rover will launch with two living units, two life support units and two supply units.

2022: A SpaceX will launch with the first group of four colonists.

2023: The first colonists will arrive on Mars in a modified Dragon capsule.

2025: A second group of four colonists will arrive. Every 2 years an additional group of four colonists will arrive.

2033: The colony will reach 20 settlers.

A few more things to think about: 

It will take over 200 days to travel to Mars. While in transit, the spacecraft will provide a mere 20 m3 living space per astronaut. Once on the red planet, the modular, inflatable habitat will comprise approximately 1000 M3 living space (about 250 m3 per inhabitant for a team of four). 

The amount of radiation astronauts will be exposed to during the trip and while living on the planet is a major health concern, especially during a solar flare or solar particle event. 

Once on Mars, water for survival will be extracted from the Martian soil and astronauts will be required to grow the food they eat using hydroponic methods. Hope you like your greens because this means no bacon or nutella for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. 

Anyway, these are only a few of the many issues surrounding this project, and I'm not even getting into the religious, moral or ethical debate some people are raising. But my question to you, dear reader, is this: If the opportunity to go to Mars presented itself, would you go? And if you had to go, what personal items would you take with you?

Knowing I'd have internet access and the ability to video call, here are a few items I'd want to take:

Journals for journal writing 
My sketch pad
Drawing/writing pens
Music (iPod)
A few personal photographs
A small plastic aquarium of German cockroaches for experimentation. 

Now what about you? :) 



  1. Greetings Elise,

    I read a book, way back when, that stated we would have a manned landing on Mars by 1977. Somewhat optimistic forecast.

    Like you, I have a great fascination with Mars. And not just the chocolate bar of the same name. I always wondered about the "canals", the changes to the surface as the Martian polar caps appeared to change in size.

    What a amazing articulated posting about one of my favourite subjects. I can just visualise staring up into the Martian sky and watching Deimos and Phobos, perhaps stray asteroids, circling the mysterious red planet.

    Yes, if given the opportunity, I would love to go. I'd take along some treasured trinkets such as my high school annuals. A stored music collection, photos and good old fashioned pen and paper in case I thought of something interesting to write.

    Thanks for this, Elise. We can always have a mission to Mars where we take the kids and our beloved animals.

    Gary :)

  2. haha no way hosa, you can keep mars. I would never go.

  3. Frisbee! I wonder how far it would travel?
    I will safely watch from Earth, thanks.

  4. I would never go. The thought is terrifying to me. Not to mention, the trip there alone would make me sick. If I had to go, I would respectfully ask them to kill me. Seriously. Exploring Mars is majorly cool and I would love to see what it's like up there (on TV from my own home on Earth), but when I first heard about this, I thought my uncle was making stuff up again. Maybe I'm alone in this. I'm just not into that kind of science. I'm more of a biology/chemistry/physics/neurological/etc science kind of person, you know. People want to talk about bio-technical engineering and cloning, I'm there. But space? No. I'll look at it, but I don't want to be out there in it. It's too big and dark and lonely.

  5. I'll watch from earth, thanks. :)

  6. If I didn't have a bunch of family and my cats and dog...but I'm with you, it sure sounds fascinating. I'll be keeping an eye in how this progresses.

  7. I don't have kids, and I would have applied for this if I had known. ;) Of course, I'd want to take my kitties with me :P

  8. It's tempting, but the early settlers will have a harsh time of it or will need a lot of funding. Better to be in a later wave of colonists, That radiation is a biggie, too. (Remember Starship Troopers - sorry, Elise)

  9. Gary: That would be a fantastic mission. Sign me up! (:

    Pat: I bet Cassie would go. (;

    Alex: I think it would be one hell of a game. (:

    Krystal: LOL. An Earthling to the bitter end! :D But I completely understand your reasoning. I secretly believe that people who actually want to go to Mars are slightly unhinged (myself included) :D

    Melissa: Thanks Melissa. (:

    Mshatch: Me too. I really hope everything goes as planned.

    Trisha: I heard they they may set up another date for applications! And kitties to Mars would be tons of fun, as long as they didn't chew on any wires. (;

    D.G. I agree, they will need a lot of funding, but a tv-reality program may be just the way to get the money they need. I'm wondering however who will have jurisdiction on Mars when they get there. Whose laws will they follow....Starship Troopers! Great aliens in that movie. (:

  10. This is fascinating - I think It would be worth it just for writing - "here's my first blog post from Mars' -the attraction may wear off after that..

  11. But as I get older I realize, much to my chagrin just how many of my dreams will never come to fruition. Sounds a bit depressing but, c'est la vie folks.

    I hear you sister.

    I find this fascinating and if I didn't have a family I would consider going. It would be hard though, I value my privacy and my space and living in that cramped environment would be difficult. I would miss so many things too. It would be a hard decision.

  12. I wouldn't mind the cold weather and a bit of radiation would give my skin a lovely green hue....

  13. I would love to go. It will never happen at my age sadly. I assume they are taking generators to power up computers etc. but what about fuel? Not sure what I would take, an ereader definitely.

  14. I must be living under a rock because I didn't know about this. Fascinating! I don't think I'd want to do it, I'm a total chicken, but I so agree that it will be amazing to see it happen.

  15. I would, but that's me. By that time I doubt I would qualify through all that training, though. Yes, I am saying this shortly after seeing Gravity for a second time. :)

  16. I have no need to go. You guys can all check it out. I'll take a later flight ;)

  17. My ex recommended this to me, but upon doing further research, it looks like this could be really dangerous, quite possibly a suicide mission. I'd love to go to Mars, but only if we'd reached a point where we had all the proper technology to sustain a landing and for humans to actually live there without all sorts of unknown health hazards. I did think we'd be on Mars and the Moon by 2000, and I'd still like to believe we'll have a space colony by 2050.

  18. You are more adventurous than I. After seeing Gravity, I will never venture into space. Even if you were to give me a new body that is much younger and athletic, I'd make the same choice. Life is impossible in space.

  19. David: That would be an awesome blog title...and yes, I guess the attraction would wear off after a while...unless they find little green men up there to write about! :D

    Sara: It would be a hard decision. Though Mars One isn't the only one with a mission to Mars project. Other groups are working to send people to Mars. I'd love to get a ride on the tourist bus to the red planet. (:

    Dezzy: It'll match your beautiful eyes. (:

    Jo: I won't be going either, but we can watch the first crew go up and that's pretty exciting. I think they are looking to use solar panels to meet most of their energy needs.

    Julie: If Mars One pulls this off, it will definitely be a defining moment in human history, and that's pretty exciting when you think about it. (:

    David: I haven't seen Gravity...looks like I need to get on that! (:

    Kelley: LOL! (:

    Carrie-Ann: I think Mars One may be able to pull it off IF they can get the funding to develop a effective and sustainable habitat as well as efficient radiation shielding. But I agree, this is a very dangerous mission, the first ones always are. Thanks for stopping by. (:

    Michael: You're the second person to mention Gravity. Seems like I need to see this movie.

  20. If you're taking cockroaches, then I'm skipping the trip. :D Interesting stuff, but I think I'd go only if it's for a few days, which isn't feasible anyway after such a long trip.

    1. LOL! But what if my cockroaches can sing? (;
      The whole idea of it being a one-way trip is scary. I think more people would be willing to go if it were for only a few years.

    2. You DO know that I possess a healthy fear of cockroaches? *shudders* and that we have some of the largest roaches in the world? (unless you can prove otherwise... which you probably can... LOL remember we have the flying ones...)
      But the thought of "singing roaches"? It evokes conflicting emotions... like a love-hate thinggie... Oooooo I kinda like the sound of singing roaches? Well, the singing part. But NOT roaches! Couldn't you find another "singing insect" besides cockroaches? Singing butterflies? Singing beetles? Anything else but NOT ROACHES!!

  21. No thanks, I'll leave room for reality tv stars. one way to get rid of them

  22. Wow-- stretches the imagination doesn't it? New frontiers, indeed!

  23. I'm pretty fascinated by Mars, but I've never heard of this project. It sounds amazing, if it will succeed! I would never be the person selected, due to my poor health, but I'd be all about keeping up with how things are going for the Martian colonists. Probably obsess over it.

    Star Trek is real! :D

  24. Mars needs Mina! No seriously. I read about the water extracted from soil not too long ago. So fascinating. It's hard to think about doing something like this when you have children. Sounds like a huge undertaking...kind of like being a writer. LOL!

  25. Yeah, if i had no family, i'd probably heavily consider it. But i couldn't go without the fam.
    Actually, i'd miss dogs too much, too. Guess i'm staying put

  26. I'm not really sure how I didn't know about this. SO COOL. I love the idea of going to Mars... but... silly as this might sound... I'd miss Earth. I'd miss the color green, and being able to walk outside without gear, and the seasons, and all of that. I think I'll be an observer instead!

  27. My husband is totally on board for space travel. Me? Not so much. I'd rather write about it, and eat my doughnuts, and take walks around my lake, and watch my children grow up. ;)

  28. Holy Ghost: LOL! :D

    Julie: As long as the human mind stays curious, there will always be new frontiers to discover. (:

    Cathy: I'm going to follow this project closely as well. When I stop to think about its significance, it blows my mind. (:

    Mina: I need Mina! The solar system needs Mina!!!!! :D

    Sarah: I think the family issue is the main deterrent for most people. I'll be staying put too. (:

    Liz: Doesn't sound silly at all. I'd miss the Earth too. (^_^)

    Crystal: Excellent reasons to stay. And now I'm hungry for doughnuts.... (;

  29. nope, if i was in 20s, sure...

    BUT interstellar travel would mean old farts like me could go, cuz we'd be in suspended animation until just before voyage end... eeeeeehawwwwww :D

  30. I must live in a box. I haven't heard anything about this. I don't know what I'd do- probably stay home- I've read Bradbury too many times.

  31. Space travel? I don't think so... no thanks!

  32. No more Nutella - I knew there was a reason I didn't apply :)
    I shared this one with my rocket scientist hubby.

  33. I'd love to go FOR A WHILE ... but forever ... uh no thanks


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