Would you ever consider moving to Mars? Asking this question takes me back to a time when the idea of traveling to another planet was pure fiction. We are a Twilight Zone-obsessed family and we've always believed that most of its story lines will happen sooner or later in real life. With Mars One sending people to begin a colony in Mars, we are left with little to the imagination.
My mother thought I was going bonkers when I told her over breakfast the other day that a private company called Mars One has been accepting applications for Mars since last year. Around 4,000 people from 177 countries have already qualified with the US having the most number of qualifiers. I couldn't blame her. Although I have heard of Mars One and its mission to begin sending people to this small planet in 2024, a part of me still find the whole idea too out-of-this-world (excuse the pun). I didn't think it was actually going to happen in my lifetime.
We were lucky to be at the Astronomy Week Celebration at The Mind Museum on February 22. The line up of events were indeed worth every minute of our time. The highlight for me was Cafe Scientifique's “We are Going to Mars!' It was an interactive exchange through Skype between Arno Weilders and the guests. Arno Weilders is the Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer of Mars One.
|Live Skype exchange with Arno Weilders|
Weilders gave a brief introduction to Mars One and then went on to answer questions from the audience. The questions ranged from what kind of government the first inhabitants would have, how conflicts would be resolved, what kind of food would be available, and what would the source of water be, among others. The last one was a question from a little girl in the audience.
Mars One launched its selection process in April 2013. It is a rigid process that requires an applicant to have five key characteristics such as resiliency, adaptability, curiosity, ability to trust, and creativity and resourcefulness. Applicants should also be at least 18 years old, which is what is considered the legal age in most countries.
“It will all be up to them,” Weilder said, when he was asked about conflict resolution. “There is a 20-minute delay in communication between Mars and Europe and it will be impossible to manage Mars' inhabitants from the Earth,” Weilder added.
For the first year, they will be feeding on canned goods that will be sent with them on the first trip in 2024. The trip will take somewhere between eight to nine months and they are expected to land in 2025. Other crucial details about the first trip have not yet been revealed.
When asked if he was ever tempted to apply, he answered, “Yes, it did cross my mind, but I have two young kids and I don't think it would be fair for them.” Weilders quickly added in jest, “I'm not very good at dealing with stress so I don't think I'd qualify.”
Even if you wanted and decided to, there is no guarantee that a family will be allowed to travel together. It will still depend on the result of individual assessment.
What really sends chills to my spine is that the trip is a one-way ticket to Mars. No return trip...ever. To me, it is a real-life closing credit to an episode of the Twilight Zone.
Mars One, Mars, Arno Weilders, The Mind Museum, Twilight Zone, fiction, earth, 2014