Mars One: Exciting Adventure or Hoax?
By Harry Keller
Editor, Science Education
The Mars One project has received quite a bit of press lately. This project plans to establish a human colony on Mars in 2023 with four people. The project is the brainchild of Bas Lansdorp, a Dutch businessman. You must give him credit for creativeness. Much of the financing will come from a 24-hour television reality show that will follow every step of the project, including watching the new “Martians” as they adapt to the harsh Mars environment.
According to the Mars One website, this project will use existing technology. The habitat consists of modules that will arrive on Mars over a period of years and will be moved into place by a Mars rover. The first colonists will do the final assembly. Every two years, four more colonists will arrive until the total population consists of twenty immigrants. At that point, the colony intends to be self-sustaining, requiring no additional supplies from Earth. No kidding! At $10,000 per pound, Earth will not continue sending oxygen, water, food, Mars suits, and more to Mars regularly.
If you haven’t guessed yet, the trips by the colonists will be one-way only. There’s absolutely no provision for bringing them home. Even with an estimated $6 billion budget, the money just isn’t there. So, who will these colonists be? Interestingly, Lansdorp proposes to charge for the privilege of taking a one-way trip to hell. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
The technology does exist to ferry materials, habitats, and a few people to Mars. The technology exists to produce enough solar power to eke out a sort of living there, in principle. The concept of establishing human habitation on another world must create a sense of excitement in anyone who has the time to pay attention. The educational opportunities would be enormous. The new colonists would be “going boldly where no one has gone before” – unless NASA gets there first with their round-trip Mars program.
It all looks exciting even if very dangerous. One misstep would spell death for the entire colony. It’s reminiscent of those who left Europe to colonize the New World or those taking their chances in the American West. Many died on the trips and after arrival from a wide variety of causes. The numbers for the Mars mission will be much smaller, and any rupture of the habitat will exterminate them all. If food production falters, they could all starve. Failure of water processing and reprocessing will doom them. These are the easy parts.
The true problems arise when you look more deeply into the circumstances under which the Mars colonists will live. Skip over the problems with four people traveling in cramped quarters for the eight-month trip to Mars. They pale in comparison to living on the planet.
(source and full article at: http://etcjournal.com/2013/04/08/mars-one-exciting-adventure-or-hoax/ ; CCPL)
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