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Lane: Life and death on Mars

BY JOE LANE | JANUARY 22, 2014 5:00 AM

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In the almost 19 years since I was born I’ve learned to really enjoy the planet on which we live. With ample amenities such as lots of air, nearly endless water, a dense atmosphere, and plants and animals, I personally think that Earth is the best planet around.

As it would turn out, however, some people on this lovely planet of ours do not feel so strongly. A lot of people, in fact. According to the Mars One website, nearly 200,000 people applied to be the first human beings to inhabit Mars beginning in the year 2025.

That may sound like an appealing prospect for high-level thrill seekers, but there’s a catch: all 24 available tickets are one-way trips.

Beginning in 2025, the Mars One Project plans to send teams of four to the red planet, never to return, in hopes of beginning human colonization on Mars.

With the esteemed aerospace and advanced technology company Lockheed Martin providing much of the technology for the privately funded operation, it appears that the Mars One mission presents the possibility to be a human advancement of Darwinian proportions.

Yet with much still unknown about the red planet, I am skeptical about the Mars One mission.

While the mission includes rigorous training that spans nine years and covers seemingly every foreseeable problem the crew may cross, right down to dealing emotionally with the tight quarters and barren landscape, it is nearly impossible to predict the difficulty of living on a planet separate from the rest of humanity.

While the Mars One mission is one of the most exciting scientific endeavors since the mapping of the human genome, there is no possible to way to predict every issue that the crew may encounter. Also worrisome is that the people going on the mission will likely have unique personalities.

The Mars One team portrays the 24 people selected from the current pool, already narrowed to 1,058, as the men and women who will go down in history as the inhabitants of Mars and will be considered the Lewises and Clarks of their time.

However, what the Mars One team fails to address are the peculiarities of the type of person that would abandon their family and friends to spend the remainder of their natural life an average of just under 140 million miles away from the rest of civilization.

Yes, it is true that these individual would have to be brave, adventurous, and have a dream. But, most of all, they must not have very strong relationships with their counterparts on Earth, given that the only method of contact with home is through video chats that would have, according Mars One, a seven-minute — not second — delay.

Placing 24 such people in this environment could prove problematic when team-building skills become integral to the mission.

The Mars One mission may be the greatest scientific endeavor of all time and spark a new chapter of space exploration that people as young as my parents may never have expected to see outside of science fiction movies.

However, I don’t expect to watch “House Hunters: Mars” on HGTV anytime soon and, with no method of return to Earth, I wouldn’t want to.


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