If you’re on your computer, it’s best to set the tone with a little mood music: open in new tab.
Dear Mars One applicant,
Did you know US astronaut Clayton Anderson was rejected by NASA for its astronaut training program 15 times, yet in 2007 he boarded the Space Shuttle Atlantis for a trip to the International Space Station. He proved anything can happen and no door is ever completely closed.
You, and just over 200,000 other aspiring astronauts around the world, took a bold step in applying to be one of our first heroes to leave Earth permanently for a new life on another planet. We cannot thank you enough for your daring effort.
At this time, we’ve made the decision to reduce our applicant pool down to just over 1000 and your application has been declined. Let’s talk about what that means.
This is not the end of your dream. We will be reopening the application process for you at a date to be determined in 2014. We want you to seriously consider re-applying. Each and every applicant, including yourself, who was not chosen in in this initial round, will have many other chances to re-enter the selection pool and try again. Don’t give up.
If you’re wondering why you’re applicant was put on hold, please review the selection criteria here. This is the criteria we used when considering your application.
Our goals are the same – human life on Mars and advancing humankind’s evolution as a multiplanetary species. Let’s continue our mission together!
Mars One Selection Committee
What do you say? Should I keep applying? I say…Yes!
Lockheed Martin just signed on to the Mars One mission.
Mars One has pushed the landing date to 2025, two years later than the original 2023.
The mission got legitimized and stigmatized in the same breath. That’s life.
Still no news on who was chosen for round two. They’re supposed to let people know yes or no by the end of the year. What do you think? I really wanted this group to have their stuff together, but that seems like it was asking a bit much at the moment. Oh well. That they have Lockheed Martin really does break the fall from the date sliding.
Cross your fingers for me being selected for round two. Can you even imagine?
Next, I turned my attention to probably the greatest source I stumbled upon during my relatively light research for this paper. I discovered an article entitled, “Revised Scenario for Human Missions to Mars” written by Jean Marc Salotti. As mentioned in this paper, Mars Direct advocates the idea of sending the recovery vehicle to Mars first, and then everything else. Salotti addresses this notion in depth, and also provides what he (and his team) think is a better scenario. The specifics are rather boring and not easily summarized here, but suffice it to say that his team believes they have a better plan, which also minimizes risks by providing redundancies every step of the way (286). What was so moving about this paper is that it was written with a tone that doesn’t hide that he fully expects a successful manned journey to Mars—and soon.
The journey nearing an end, I found an article which seemed a fitting punctuation mark with which to conclude the paper, “Can Humans Live on Mars?” by Ken Kremer. The short answer is “Yes”. Kremer focuses his question and subsequent answer specifically on radiation levels. For the lay reader, the article reveals that astronauts today already operate within preset radiation exposure limits (Kremer). He goes on to conclude that all the data argues that Mars’ thin atmosphere actually reduces the radiation exposure an astronaut would encounter when compared to current trips to the International Space Station (Kremer). This is encouraging news. There are, of course, still many uncertainties, but the overall point is that settling Planet Mars, as Mars One intends on doing, seems to be more than a joke. While the details are being fine-tuned, it is clear that prominent members of the larger space exploration community argue that humanity possesses the ability to fly to and land on Mars. Furthermore it seems that humans should be able to live for at least a short time without ill effect.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This goal to inhabit Mars in 2023 is achievable and realistic. More than the research this paper reviews, I know this to be true because I am a member of the human race. I know this to be true because I possess the innately human quality intuition. I know this to be true because when backed by the history of human experience and achievement, intuition proves itself accurate. The human race is a super-organism that does not give-up. When we direct our attention towards manifesting an idea, the rest is history.
Kremer, Ken. “Can Humans Live on Mars?” Universe Today RSS. N.p., 19 Nov. 2012. Web. 17 Sept. 2013. <http://www.universetoday.com/98509/can-humans-live-on-mars/>.
Salotti, Jean Marc. “Revised Scenario For Human Missions To Mars.” Acta Astronautica 81.1 (2012): 273-287. Academic Search Premier. Web. 5 Sept. 2013.
So far my research had been exclusively American. I decided I needed to change it up a bit, so I looked to discover what the motherland had to say. My most relevant findings weren’t about the future, but the past. BBC News’ Race to Mars webpage had a nice timeline which emphasized most that humans hit Mars with man-made materials in 1971 and 1972. Educating uninitiated space junkies, the site reveals that starting back in 1965 humans were taking close-up pictures of the surface from orbiting satellites. This was exciting and a good sign for two reasons. First, from taking close-up pictures to landing–albeit crash landing–took less than a decade. Second, Mars One has given itself a decade and there are rovers right now on Mars. Remember Mars One’s claim…they’re only going to use existing technology. That was becoming more and more believable as my research continued. Moreover, 10 years to prepare was beginning to sound more like 10 years to perfect the plan.
Scrolling down to my Works Cited page, I decided to see what James Bell III had to say. In an extremely impressive article called, “The Search for Habitable Worlds: Planetary Exploration in the 21St Century,” Bell plainly and eloquently explains the situation. The situation is that Mars is definitely mankind’s chosen priority at the moment (9). Before going further, I need to clear the air and acknowledge that Bell never does discuss placing humans on any of the once habitable or possibly habitable worlds; instead he emphasizes the current strategy slogan adopted by NASA is “flyby, orbit, land, rove, and return” (9). One particular article highlight is that it sounds like Mars likely had water at one point, but it is difficult or impossible for water to remain stable on the surface today because of the lack of atmosphere (12). So, this article then is a mixed bag for my quest. This writer, Bell, seems to be a very respectable voice in the community, but he doesn’t mention settling people on Mars. However, he does an excellent job of delineating that humankind is in the “third great Age of Exploration” as historian and author Stephen Pyne has labeled it (8). As always, I take this to be a great indicator that we are moving quickly and will soon be living on Mars. I take this to be a great indicator because the first two ages of exploration (the first personified by Columbus; the second, Lewis and Clark) were successful. Among the many things humans, as a group, seem to be skilled at, exploring tops the list–and I see no reason for this skill to have perished simply because we’ve reached the end of the Earth.
Bell III, James F. “The Search for Habitable Worlds: Planetary Exploration in the 21St Century.” Daedalus 141.3 (2012): 8. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 5 Sept. 2013.
BBC News. BBC, 04 Feb. 2008. Web. 17 Sept. 2013. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/sci_tech/2003/race_for_mars/default.stm>.
Next, I stumbled upon a more scholarly article written by Mehdi Lali. In “Analysis and Design of a Human Spaceflight to Mars, Europa, and Titan,” Mehdi Lali discusses why these three un-earthly bodies are the best choice for manned exploration and when the best time to do it will be. He also incorporates some graphics which illustrate several gee-whiz techniques which will make the trip quicker and safer. He begins the article by clarifying that, “Among the terrestrial (rocky) planets, only Mars can potentially be host to humans” (557). As space exploration isn’t limited to planets he further discusses options like Europa and Titan which are moons of outer planets. After he presents his ideas and methodology he concludes, “A rare launch-window opportunity is conceived to occur in 2078, in which these sites i.e., Mars, Europa and Titan will be aligned in such a way that they can be visited in one mission taking advantage of the gravity assists from Mars and Jupiter” (563). Sign me up. Obviously, the year 2078 is quite a bit later than 2023; likewise, the specifics that Mr. Lali recommends for Mars exploration are quite a bit different from Mars One’s plans. This second source then really only conveyed to me that the area of manned space exploration is not very stable. It seems that depending on a set of almost unlimited factors, different scientists perceive different capabilities. Overall, my takeaway is that Lali’s article is clearly not about settling Mars, so its conclusions aren’t very relevant to my question. I have to admit that an article like Mr. Lali’s was kind of draining. It had too much specific data (read: numbers), and most of it went way over my head. That’s okay. With every failure comes a learning opportunity. I learned that I needed to focus my research a little narrower—easy enough.
What I found next was an article called, “How To…Land a Human on Mars.” Piers Bizony writes a much more digestible article explaining…how to land a human on Mars. It seems Mars One isn’t the only game in town. Since the early 1990s something called Mars Direct has been floating a six step plan to explore Mars in person. Essentially, the plan is to send the recovery vehicle first (empty), then gear, then people, then recover everyone; after which they would rinse’n’repeat (Bizony 42). While this wasn’t the plan Mars One had, it was still an encouraging bit of information. Making it even more intriguing, was that it claimed that the technology to create fuel and water on Mars already exists (Bizony 41). At this point in the project I decided to close the laptop and pack my “go” bag.
Bizony, Piers. “How To… …Land A Human On Mars.” Engineering & Technology (17509637) 8.1 (2013): 40-42. Academic Search Premier. Web. 5 Sept. 2013.
Lali, Mehdi. “Analysis And Design Of A Human Spaceflight To Mars, Europa, And Titan.” AIP Conference Proceedings 1208.1 (2010): 557-565. Academic Search Premier. Web. 5
Two days ago a new line was drawn. This line doesn’t appear on any map; and you have less than ten years to decide which side to stand on. But make no mistake, you must decide.
MARS ONE is planning to send people on a one-way trip to Mars. Hold. Stop here before a response has time to form. Your reaction to this simple and understandable piece of information exposes more about you, both as an individual and as a member of the human race, than any other thought you’ve ever formulated. Sharing your reaction with others is the fullest example of vulnerability I can conceive.
From now until the precise moment of lift-off each person living has been given a part to play in mankind’s greatest collective internal struggle. What is it all about?
Hermeneutics is the word philosophers use to describe the science of interpreting life. That is, the big unanswerable questions that most people think are pointless. These pointless questions have just challenged you to a duel by slapping your face. No longer can you ignore them or pretend that they are pointless. Like it or not, you are being forced to choose. No answer you’ve ever given compares in weight with how you choose to answer the following question: Is MARS ONE a joke?
Answering this question is as fundamentally instructive to your self-discovery as Mr. Miyagi’s using car wax and fence paint was to Daniel’s learning karate.
If you find yourself drawn to laugh and say MARS ONE is a joke, you’re not just asserting what you think about the capabilities of the organization. You’re commenting on the goal of establishing a human settlement on Mars, itself only another step for mankind.
If your instinct is to withhold judgment until further investigation affords you an answer, lump yourself in with those who think it is a joke.
If on the other hand, you answer an emphatic “No!” because you recognize the human spirit defining nature inherent to the ambition of the goal, you’ve made it. Move to the head of the class. “What is possible is done; what is impossible will be done.”
In 2023 the efforts of MARS ONE will have amassed the sharp focus of humanity as the project makes its mark not just on Earth, but on the human spirit. Is MARS ONE a joke? What do you think?