Why I want to be a passenger on Mars One

20.02.2015 14:33

I have always been in awe of the night sky,
trying to comprehend the vastness of space
and the countless wonders it contains. But
I have always felt a certain dissatisfaction
with only being able to see it at a distance.
One day I imagine that humanity will be
able to visit other planets in the solar
system, and venture even further to other
stars, but this has always seemed very far
away. That’s the reason why I applied for
the Mars One mission, aimed at starting a
human colony on Mars – it seemed like a
real opportunity to get closer to the rest of
the night sky, to give me a chance to be a
part of taking humanity into the stars.
Mars is, in a way, the perfect stepping
stone into the rest of the universe. Despite
its inhospitable conditions, it has a day-
night cycle only 39 minutes longer than on
Earth. Unlike the moon, it is resource-rich,
and has a soil and atmosphere rich in
water and nitrogen respectively. Mars does
not suffer from the sweltering heat and
toxic atmosphere found on Venus, closer to
the sun from Earth, but still receives
enough light from the Sun to enable the
generation of solar power.
As a PhD student carrying out astronomical
scientific research, I’m naturally drawn to
the research possibilities on Mars. We’re
already able to achieve amazing things
with the rovers we’ve landed there. But
there’s only so much that a robotic rover
can do compared to what a human on the
surface would be capable of, what with the
ability to physically apply a range of
techniques and make immediate decisions
instead of having to wait for commands
from mission control on Earth.Being able to study the geology of Mars up
close would be the ultimate research
opportunity, answering questions about
the history of the planet and the solar
system. However the scientific value of a
mission to Mars, while enormous, isn’t all
the mission could provide.
The social and political implications of a
colony on another planet are staggering,
and its development will be fascinating.
Will the Martian colony be its own
political entity? (I hope so.) If so, how will
it relate to Earth? What will Martian
society, kick-started by an incredibly
diverse and intelligent group of just 40
people, come to look like in the decades to
follow colonisation? Will it remain very
connected to Earth, or will its start to
develop its own culture, with its own
customs, habits, and rituals for birth,
death and other significant moments of
life, such as one’s first step onto the
Martian surface? What sort of a world will
our descendants inherit – and will they
remain friends with their cousins on
When I applied for Mars One, I applied to
dedicate my life to the creation of a colony
that will have enormous implications for
the future of the human race. It’s in many
ways a monumental responsibility, a life’s
work much bigger than myself, and one for
which I feel no qualms about the fact that
it’s a journey from which there’s no coming
I feel very aware of the dreams of all those
people who wished to travel in to space, to
colonise other planets – and I do so on
their behalf, as well as for myself. I want to
have lived my life doing something that
wasn’t only what I wanted to do, but
something that will have a lasting impact
on our collective future.
I’m 23, and the past couple of years have
been uncertain: stepping through the
application for Mars One, even though I’ve
made the shortlist of 100 I’m still unsure
whether I’ll be selected. Hoping that I am
suitable, but ultimately wanting the very
best and most capable people to go, I have
had to hold two possible futures in my
In one, I complete my PhD, get a place of
my own, pursue a career in research or
maybe in politics. I get really good at
playing piano, I find time to travel to
Norway, Italy, Canada, and Japan, and
maybe find a husband or wife.
In the other, I leave behind the
possibilities of Earth for the possibilities
of Mars. Alongside my crew I pioneer
planetary scientific research and, as the
founding member of a new civilisation, I
plant the seeds of a diverse and generous
society. I communicate our life to followers
on Earth, help establish new policy
through which humans explore and settle
the stars ethically and responsibly … and
maybe find a husband or wife.
Both futures hold so much potential that
there will be a real sense of loss when I
know which path I am on, but also a real
sense of purpose.
I have very high hopes for what we can
achieve by colonising Mars. The mission is
a difficult one, but I believe the plan is
feasible and Mars One is capable of
pulling it off. And when that happens, it
will be an incredibly diverse group of
people from many different countries,
cultures and backgrounds working
together to represent the human race on a
new planet, backed by the investment and
support of millions of people across the
Mars One is the people’s mission to Mars,
and I am honoured to be a part of it.