This week the organisation “Mars One” announced that their call for applications to join the first manned mission to Mars was very succesful: Out of about 200.000 applicants 1058 were shortlisted, for a final crew of 24 earthlings to build a new civilisation on the red planet. The planed starting date for this new mankind should be in 2025 (1st of January, I guess for the Westerns, or March 21 for us Zoroastrians).
So the few seats on the spaceship are 8000 fold overbooked, what is amazing, I think, considering all the risks associated with such a cruise. In fact, I think the mission is more a crusade (with little chance to return home) than a cruise, were the traveller make a lot of photographs they can show latter on to the people at home. Most likely, they will never ever meet their friends and relatives back on earth again any more, since the Mars One mission has no planned return function.
When you investigated the different options for an extra-terrestrial habitable planet, there were talks about water and a breezable atmosphere, green grass for the horses, but as you can see on the above picture of the mars, our nearest neighbor planet looks more like a desert. When you asked me to join you to Gliese 581g, I had in mind the pictures of Eleanor Arroway from the movie Contact, seeing her walk along the most beautiful ocean beach after being send to Vega using a relativistic space-time capsula.
I also like calm places to relax, and the heritable planet you were considering or the Vega planet Elly Arroway goes to would perfectly for me, but not a three years journey with 24 other slandering space tourists. I checked the list of items which are permitted to take with you on the Mars One mission, and the items which are forbidden, and here it comes really awful: You can take with you toothbrush, some chocolate bars (or Knoppers), 5 containers sun-blocker cream (protection factor 200), 2 T-shirts, one pair of addidas shoes, and a WiFi-capable smart-phone. In total, personal luggage should not exceed 12 kg, i.e. you can not take a piano with you (maybe an accustic guitar), the horses also have to stay at home. The Mars One travelers have to leave their terrestrial existence like pilgrims, with not much more to take than what they can carrying on their shoulders. You perhaps remember the red suitcase (19.5kg they weighted it at airport check-in) I had with me when I arrived in Munich for the master project, and I then I already had the feeling of missing too much of my stuff, even though it was only for a 4 month period. Some of the applicants for the Mars One mission tried to get more points on the evaluation score by offering to travel to Mars completely naked, what would be disgusting for all the other passengers, right ?
Even if I would got used to all these limitations and inconveniences of the Mars One mission, there are also uncertainties about real health hazards. Recently you raised the issue of a potential plutonium-contamination of the Mars surface by the discovery vehicle, but what might be more serious is the unavoidable exposure of all space-passengers to the high-energy cosmic radiation, which over the 3 years journey time would accumulate to several Gy whole-body radiation. Isn’t that a life-threatening dose ? Even though the 24 passengers can avoid or cure any detrimental health effects for themself (by eating anti-oxidant containing functional food), the idea that they could ever get normal children to buildt up an entire, healthy civilization is out of sight.
Even though I don’t want to be the funder of an entire new civilization, but I want to have at least one or two healthy kids. And I also want to have lavish life with many shoes and clothes and a piano and horses. I am therefore happy to stay on earth. It does not has to be Sweden, but there are quite many place on our planet which resemble Eleanor Arroways Vega beach.