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article imageOp-Ed: To live and die on Mars — 1,058 people on short-list

By Karen Graham     Jan 4, 2014 in Science
Imagine if you will, being one of the lucky few chosen to make a one-way manned mission to the red planet. It will take a special kind of person, one with strength of character and ambition, and with a willingness to see the future in a new frontier.
From around late April until the end of August in 2013, Mars One, a non-profit organization led by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, received over 200,000 applications from people in over 100 countries around the world, hoping to be chosen a member of an elite group, the first humans to colonize Mars.
The initial pool will be whittled down this year and again in 2015, until six to ten groups of four are chosen for the first manned flight, sometime in 2023. This will not be the only time applications will be accepted. Mars One wants to make colonization of Mars an ongoing venture.
Mars-manned-mission vehicle (NASA Human Exploration of Mars Design Reference Architecture 5.0) feb 2...
Mars-manned-mission vehicle (NASA Human Exploration of Mars Design Reference Architecture 5.0) feb 2009
NASA
What's different in this group's approach to a manned mission to Mars is the gimmick being used to fund the venture. With the public affinity for reality shows, Mars One is going to host the "ultimate" reality show. The new show will run 24/7/365 days a year and will focus on everything, from crew selection to training, and of course, the trip itself.
Just remember, there will be no "instant replay" where this show is involved, because the organization assures the world, this is not a hoax or a joke. The group will have to find partners to help with funding and building some of the hardware for the mission and colony.
Mars One does warn that “the possibility of failure of a launch or a surface component can never be fully excluded. This could lead to a delay of up to two years.” With that being said, one would think that with over 200,000 initial applicants, the organization has a broad pool of applicants to draw from.
In reality, very few of the applicants have fulfilled their initial requirements. David Brin, a SciFi author and Mars One applicant has this to say about the compulsion to take a chance on making the trip: He thinks the probability of the mission succeeding is very low, and for him, it's more about getting a conversation started.
Brin calls this a "barnstorming" period. And in the broadest sense, it rings true. Just look at Virgin Galactic and SpaceX , and then, Mars One, The basis for all these projects has been healthy competition, from the realistic to the questionable, perhaps, but this is the hallmark of all exploration, and it has always been this way.
Man has always thought of the red planet as being barren, dry and devoid of any useful resources. And while over half of all unmanned missions to Mars have been unsuccessful since the 1960's, we have found that Mars has an unusually vast store of resources that could be extracted and used by astronauts.
By pulling feedstock out of the planet's thin, carbon-dioxide filled atmosphere, oxygen and rocket fuel could be produced. Water could be generated from the very dirt the colonists tread on. Robert Zurbin, President and founder of the mars Society says, "We now know that Martian soil has water in it. Even at the equator, it's 5 percent water by weight; in the Arctic regions, it's 60 percent water by weight. And we've developed technology that can bake water out of that soil and make it available."
Remote surface exploration in regions around the habitat complex is accomplished by using pressurize...
Remote surface exploration in regions around the habitat complex is accomplished by using pressurized rovers. These vehicles would allow the crew to explore beyond the range permitted by their space suits while allowing them to operate in a shirtsleeve environment. Artist concept.
John Frassanito and Associates for NASA
With water, and the plentiful carbon-dioxide found on Mars, it is feasible that crops can be grown in some areas of the planet. As for temperatures, the equatorial regions of Mars are about the same, temperature-wise, as Norway. Mars also has nitrogen in the soil, needed for plant growth. With iron oxide and silicone oxide found in the red planet's soil, it is evident that steel, glass and plastics could be made.
In 2012, Bas Lansdorp told Fox News that before the first colonists arrive on the red planet, the company plans to launch the first supply vessel in 2016. In 2018, it plans to send a rover. His four person company plans to coordinate the launches, but will work with suppliers for the ships and rockets, as well as some of the hardware needed.
It apparently is true that a one-way mission to Mars is in the foreseeable future, and many are calling it a suicide mission. Anything and everything could go wrong, but when Christopher Columbus set sail for what he thought was going to be India, many called that mission "crazy." Mars is 34 million miles from earth, and that is a very long way to go.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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