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Bas Lansdorp Answers Your Questions About Going to Mars 189

Posted by samzenpus
from the cheap-ticket dept.
You asked questions of Bas Lansdorp, who's behind a project to send a quartet of astronauts to Mars — on a one-way trip. Lansdorp provides below his answers to inquiries about food, fuel, suicide, privacy, and more. So whether you're curious enough to put in for a Mars-bound ship or skeptical that this enterprise will get off the ground, read on.
Participant Psychosis?
by eldavojohn

This question may boil down to cultural differences but I'm an American, fairly non-nomadic and I have a lot of cargo -- both mentally and physically. There are places of my youth that I may never return to and I currently sit a thousand miles away from. But I'm okay with this because if I flipped out one day I could just board a plane or road trip it back. I'm aware that settlers who came to the Americas faced similar issues but they were moving to a new land that was already inhabited by humans and had new places to offer them. Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids. In fact, it's cold as hell. I would surmise that someone would need to be legally insane to willingly go to a place without society, without parks, without schools, without culture, without even atmosphere, without children, without the elderly and without the prospect of seeing those things first hand again. Furthermore, should a sane person make such a decision I can see no perceivable way they would remain sane. Even if the person is nomadic or adventurous in nature, you will bring them to a new world and require four of them to remain cooped up in a thousand cubic meters.

Call it cabin fever, call it space madness, call it batshit insanity, call it whatever you want but aside from bombarding them with digital crap from Earth, how are you going to combat it? I know your ratings go up but what happens when all your reality television is 90% insane ramblings of home?

Bas Lansdorp: Will the astronauts go insane? The author of the question has answered a large part of this question in his own text. The key to success is a very careful selection procedure. The author 'has a lot of cargo -- both mentally and physically' — typically a person that will not be selected (and in this case would not even apply) for the position. However, the author should not forget that not everyone is alike. I'm quite sure that the author would not have applied for a position in the team of South Pole explorer Shackleton. This was the announcement:

"Men wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, and bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success."

Despite the ominous tone of the ad, the response was overwhelming.

Mars One will carefully select the crew for a number of skills and qualities. They will be people who have dreamt their whole life of going to Mars and in many case will have pursued careers that will increase the odds of being selected for this kind of mission. The selected team will be very smart, skilled, mentally stable and very healthy. They will go to Mars to live their dream.

On Mars, they will be busy. They will improve the habitat and extend it with new units sent from Earth and with local materials. They will do research — their own research but also gather data for the research of others (for example universities). And they will prepare the settlement for the second crew that lands two years after. Every two years a new crew will arrive, such that the settlement will slowly become a small village and a more attractive place to live for more and more people.

We have discussed our plan with experienced psychologists. One of Mars One's advisers is Norbert Kraft M.D., who has worked on astronaut selection at NASA and JAXA. He wrote an interesting article on this in the Huffington Post together with Prof. Dr. Raye Kass.

What are the entertainment options like?
by alen

If I move to mars for the rest of my life, what are the entertainment options? What am I supposed to do in my off time?

BL: The astronauts will have many things they can do on Mars. They can do most of the indoor activities that people can do on Earth: read, play games, write, paint, work out in the gym, watch TV, use the Internet, contact friends at home and so on. There will be some limitations because of the long distance between Earth and Mars, resulting in time delays: they will have to request the movies or news broadcasts they want to see in advance. So if an astronaut would like to watch the Super bowl, he (or she) could request it and it would be uploaded to the server on Mars. There will always be the time delay of at least three minutes, so the people on Mars would know who won a few minutes after the people on Earth.

Easy Internet access will be limited to their preferred sites that are constantly updated on the local Mars web server. Other websites will take between 6 and 45 minutes to appear on their screen - first 3-22 minutes for your click to reach Earth and then another 3-22 minutes for the website data to reach Mars. Contacting friends at home is possible by video, voice or text message (e-mail, whatsapp, sms), but a real time dialogue is not possible because of the time delay.

Suicide options?
by Anonymous Coward

Will the astronauts be supplied with the means to end their lives if they find themselves facing hopeless circumstances (e.g., slow life-support failure, debilitating depression)?

BL: The design of the Mars settlement will include a very high level of redundancy on all crucial systems like life support. The astronauts will have received extensive training in repairing any failure in the system, either with spare parts, or with parts harvested from other broken equipment.

Also, the astronauts will have been carefully selected by psychiatrists. In the early days of space flight astronauts received cyanide capsules. Our astronauts will not receive such pills. Mars One will select and train the crews to have the ability to respond adaptively to the challenges of unanticipated problems and to collaborate under highly stressful conditions.

Put your lives where your mouths are
by Lanfranc

I just have one very simple question: I understand that Mars One intend to send four people at a time to Mars. I also note that the Mars One team currently consists of four people. So are you and your three business partners willing to be the first group to go, and if not, why not?

BL: As explained in the first answer, crew selection will be the key to success for a Mars mission. The selected astronauts will be very smart, skilled, mentally stable, sociable and very healthy. It's unlikely that even one of us would live up to the high requirements, let alone that we would be the perfect team. Also, it is our goal to involve the whole world so the team should be international. The public selection process where the audience can influence who gets to go is a very important part of involving the world. The people on Mars are our eyes and ears: they will tell us what it is like to be on Mars. By asking help of the audience to select them, we make sure that they are people that humanity would like to be their reporters on life on Mars.

The astronauts that we send to Mars will be very smart people. They will understand every risk and will have ample time during their years of training to weigh the risks. They can always decide not to go.

In-Situ Fuel Production?
by Cap'nSmithers

Are you exploring any possibilities for creating fuel for a return trip while on Mars? There is at least one study for the possibility, most likely more. If you're planning on the trip being a one-way mission, why not at least experiment with the idea for future Mars missions? And if it works, you get a ride home, and you've made some pretty hefty contributions to space travel.

BL: Mars One is proposing a mission where humans settle on Mars for the rest of their lives. This eliminates the need for fuel production and the great power requirements, fuel storage capabilities and hardware equipment weight and volume that are associated with fuel production.

Producing the fuel is actually not the hardest part of returning humans to Earth. The hardest parts are the rocket that should launch them from the surface to Mars orbit and it's the Earth return vehicle with all the supplies that needs to take them from Mars orbit to Earth. Fuel production with elements present on Mars and in Mars-like conditions has already been demonstrated on Earth. There are several products that can be produced on Mars. We are very interested in techniques to build habitat extensions from Martian materials, build a power production system on Mars with local materials or a machine that can produce plastics. We believe that providing the astronauts with building blocks to improve their lives on Mars more important than demonstrating fuel production. However, fuel production is certainly interesting once the above technologies are available on Mars. Fuel for a manned return trip may not be required for a long time, but a sample return mission would also greatly benefit form fuel produced on Mars. Such a sample return mission would also build the experience to send future manned missions back to Earth.

Pioneers
by tmosley

It seems to me that a mission of this type which is meant to be permanent must by necessity focus on the production of those things which are necessary for survival on Mars. This means that your colonists, and they should be called colonists, will need to focus on the production of air, water, food, living space, and manufactured goods, in that order. Media spectacle or no, that is the order that things must take, prior to wasting time with research (wasting time in the hunter-gatherer sense).

I think that the only way you are going to be able to get your colonists to do what you want them to do will be to have them earn money with their scientific research/media nonsense such that it funds resupply missions.

That said, what is your business plan with regards to production of goods on Mars, and resupply missions?

BL: Local production of water, breathable air and food will be provided from the start. Water and breathable air will even be produced on Mars before the astronauts depart from Earth. (Please read here.)

Providing them with a way to produce habitable volume and energy with local materials is also high on our list, but these technologies are not 'off the shelf'. Mars One plans to send out a request for proposals to have these technologies developed. The poser of the question is absolutely correct: getting things up and running on Mars and survival are more crucial than research.

The astronauts will however have a keen interest in doing science on Mars. One of the crew might well be a biologist or a geologist. While the scientific research may not be high on the list of priorities, the media will be. This is a major source of revenues for the mission and the astronauts will obviously know this. They know that they are on Mars thanks to the public interest. The media revenues will be required to finance supply missions and new crews going to Mars.

Power Draw?
by eldavojohn

Exactly how do you plan on broadcasting reality TV of your mission? Mars seems like a difficult place to get energy. When people's lives are at risk in a mercilessly harsh environment, isn't it a bit selfish for us to be asking them to use their solar panels to send us video of their daily lives? I understand the need for communications but how do you plan on sending enough video and audio back from the teams to make a reality show?

Is the following statement morally reprehensible to you? "I know you've had a long day but we need someone to do a walk out to dust off the south solar panels because we're not getting enough power to transmit cameras five and six to monitor you while you sleep."

BL: Mars One plans to use solar panels for the Mars mission. Solar power is very reliable on Mars. The system will be designed to deliver enough power for essential systems in the settlement during a solar storm, yielding in a large surplus power when there is no storm (read more on that here). The data transmission system to the Mars orbiting satellite requires only a limited amount of power, which is included in the power budget for dust storm conditions. Our goal is to put humans on Mars, our business model is the media event around the humans mission. The media event is what makes it possible to finance the mission to Mars. The communications system design allows for 4 video + audio channels streaming full time from Mars to Earth. The astronauts know this and know that it will be part of their tasks on Mars - they are on Mars thanks to the public interest. If your moral question actually is "won't the reality TV be too intrusive?" please note that there won't be any camera's in their bedrooms, so there will be no energy wasted on transmitting video images of sleeping astronauts.

Environmental Questions
by Reality Master 101

I've always been of the opinion that once a private Mars mission gets close to becoming reality, scientists and the government will go in league to shut it down because of environmental contamination. The question of whether there is life on Mars is still open, and once you have a group setting up a settlement, the planet is potentially contaminated forever with Earth bacteria, which might even kill off native bacteria, if any.

My question is, are you concerned with the contamination question and do you think you might be prevented from going if scientists get the right politicians to listen? You sort-of have a FAQ question about this ("Will the mission be harmful to Mars' environment?"), but you don't really answer it.

BL: Mars One will discuss with the COSPAR panel of planetary protection and the COSPAR panel of exploration what measures need to be taken with respect to contamination of the Mars with Earth life forms. Prof. Dr. Pascale Ehrenfreund of the COSPAR panel of exploration is one of our advisers. From discussions with these two panels, Mars One will take the required actions.

Space for growing food?
by Mr. Theorem

Your FAQ, in the "sustainability" question, states: "The first four will also be carrying a device similar to a portable greenhouse, that will allow them to grow their own food."

If we take 2000 calories per day as a baseline human need, that's 730,000 calories per [Earth] year, or about 3 million calories per Earth year per four-person crew, and the total need will grow by 3 million calories per Earth year every two years as more missions arrive. The diet would need to be varied, both to guard against catastrophic crop failure and to provide an appropriate spectrum of nutrients, and a reasonable estimate (e.g. based on a combination of corn, beans, and squash) suggests that 1 acre on Earth can provide such 3 million calories. But Mars gets, on average, only about 44% of the insolation as Earth does, so the first-order estimate suggests you'd need about 2.3 acres per mission-load of astronauts to grow a subsistence diet. This presumes that radiation won't negatively impact the crops, that the yield throughout the Mars growing season scales comparable to the Earth's, that your soil is comparable to Earth's, and many more things. You'll also need enough additional carbon and water to make the non-edible parts of the plants and soil, and you'll need to make sure there exists a suitable microbial community to decompose crop waste and turn it back into a useable food-growing medium (i.e. compost).

I don't see in your concept drawing anything that approaches the size of land that would be needed to come anywhere close to such sustainable food production. Do you even have a back-of-the-envelope plan for sustainable food production, or is the bulk of the astronauts' calories going to need to come in perpetuity from the Earth?

BL: Food from Earth will only serve as emergency rations, the astronauts will eat fresh food that they produce on Mars. Mars One will make use of high efficient plant growing methods that require much less space (e.g. www.plantlab.nl). Food production will be hydroponic, eliminating the need for soil. Food production will happen indoor, lighted by LED lighting. By providing the plants with only the frequencies of light that they use most efficiently, power consumption is limited. Some of the plants will be grown in multiple levels on top of each other, limiting space requirements. In total there will be about 50 m2 available for plant growth. A thick layer of Martian soil on top of the inflatable habitat will protect the plans (and the astronauts) from radiation. CO2 for the plants is available from the Mars atmosphere and water is available through recycling and from the soil of Mars. Non-edible parts of the plants will be recycled, or will be stored until more advanced recycling equipment is shipped from Earth.

Funding sources
by Katatsumuri

Are you considering a mix of different funding sources, like Kickstarter, private donations / investors, government / corporate sponsorship? TV show alone may not be sufficient. Maybe accept free hardware / volunteer labor / services like rocket launches as donations, too?

On a related note, are you going to start the selection and training as soon as you have enough money for that first step? Or do you think it only makes sense if you have secured the funding for the actual trip? I personally think once this starts rolling, it will be easier to attract more funding.

BL: We are considering all the revenue possibilities that you mention. We do not expect to be offered free rocket launches, especially not of the quality that we need for our Mars missions. Mars One will make limited use of free hardware for use on Earth and volunteer labour that is offered to us. Already, people are helping us with improvements to our website and with translation of the subtitles of our YouTube movie.

We will start the selection and training of the astronauts long before collecting the complete funding for the trip. As you say, it will be easier to attract funding when there is more publicity around our plans, and more progress achieved. We intend to start with the selection process within one year, after the completion of the conceptual design studies by our suppliers.

Mars One plan to obtain the necessary funding
by AnotherBlackHat

No media spectacle in the history of the Earth has garnered 6 billion dollars. Why should we believe that your Mars landing would?

BL: Mars One is not just landing people on Mars, we are creating an adventure for everyone in the world to follow from 2013, when we start the astronaut selection, through 2022, when we depart to Mars, 2023 when the first crew lands to 2050 and beyond when there are dozens of people living and working on Mars. NBC recently paid $4.4 billion for the broadcasting rights for the Olympic games in the USA only, from 2014 until 2020. That's the Winter Olympics of 2014 and 2018 and the Summer Olympics of 2016 and 2020, a total of 12 weeks of entertainment. This number does not include other revenues like sponsorships. The Olympic games of 2006 (winter games) and 2008 (summer games) together created revenues of $5.450 billion

We have discussed the business case with various large parties in the media industry. They are without exception convinced of the revenue model.

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Bas Lansdorp Answers Your Questions About Going to Mars

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  • suicide (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nazsco (695026) on Friday July 13, 2012 @03:52PM (#40642423) Journal

    I bet the reason 1st astronauts got cyanide was to avoid painful interrogation if landing in enemy territory...

  • Lots of it -- stinky, sweaty sex, built into the mission parameters.

  • Nice dodge (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nazsco (695026) on Friday July 13, 2012 @03:53PM (#40642441) Journal

    On the question about contamination of possible life on mars... Said absolutely nothing

    • Re:Nice dodge (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ganjadude (952775) on Friday July 13, 2012 @04:08PM (#40642703) Homepage
      I noticed that as well, I also am not one to really care if our bacteria spreads on other planets. If anything it will just help contibute to the futher survival of "life" in the solar system
      • First pillage, *then* burn.

        Besides moral options, providing some examples of uncontaminated (possible) alien life to our scientists could help to understand life here, in Mars and in other planets.

        That after having studied it you want to destroy it / do not care about it? We will talk about it then

        To put an analogy, you are like the Spanish religious who burned and destroyed the Mayan books because they were sacrilegous.

        • by ganjadude (952775)
          It would be an analogy if we were actually destroying anything. We arent. A better analogy would be columbus traveling to the "new world" and the diseases that wiped out the natives.

          there are no natives, as such, its apples and oranges.

          I dont disagree that the scientific value of an un poluted sample is way better off, but your comparision and what is/would actually happen is way off base
          • by Larryish (1215510)

            Upon finding life on Mars, the astronauts should do the most important thing first...

            They should rub their penises or vaginas on the alien life forms.

    • With no magnetic fields the cosmic rays / radiation will probably keep the surface quite sterile.
      • by masternerdguy (2468142) on Friday July 13, 2012 @04:42PM (#40643189)
        Magnetic fields have no effect on electromagnetic radiation such as UV. It just passes through it. You need an ozone layer to protect from that kind of radiation.
        • by jpapon (1877296)
          Did you just claim that magnetic fields don't affect high energy particles, and that only other matter (such as the ozone layer) can do that?
        • by jpapon (1877296)
          My bad, I guess you were just talking about far field waves, not charged particles.
          • But cosmic rays are streams of energetic charge particles. Magnetic fields will definitely affect those. And a lack of a magnetic field on mars will definitely let many more of them hit the surface.
        • by dthx1138 (833363)
          True, but particle radiation (i.e. charged electrons and protons) are just as deadly, if not moreso. The Earth's magnetic field captures those in the Van Allen Belts. Its a key reason for why our DNA wasn't mutated to oblivion long ago.
    • I doubt he has anything to say about that. I'm sure they have people working on that aspect, but if I was him I wouldn't be focusing my personal attention there either until my experts have it worked out. They have 10 years to work on that problem, it doesn't need to be solved right now. I'm sure they're also probably planning on localized contamination at least around the habitat. It would be exceedingly difficult to prevent 100% of contamination.

    • by magarity (164372)

      On the question about contamination of possible life on mars... Said absolutely nothing

      Because the person who asked it watched a few too many "prime directive" themed episodes on Star Trek. Seriously, are we who are stuck on just one dirtball deathtrap planet worried at this point about this? If there were microbes on Mars, would they ever be anything other than microbes given the Mars environment? If the solar system has been here billions of years already and your species is still at the microbe level, sorry, evolution has passed you by.

    • by Chalex (71702)

      The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson addresses this issue a bit (along with all the other issues).

      In those books, the colonists (numbering 100 for the initial batch) are split on whether "contamination" of Mars is acceptable or not. Eventually, a group splinters off, much like the staunch environmentalists we have in the US today.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_trilogy

      • by Teancum (67324)

        That is a nice story from a single author who has political biases along those lines, or at least the idea was promoted as a way to advance the plot. Real life is different, and ultimately more weird and unique than anything which could be written at the hand of a single author or even a small team.

        That said, there are environmentalists today who want to keep Mars in its current pristine condition. Heck, there are folks complaining about potential air pollution issues (mainly from Oxygen being released fr

    • by gr8_phk (621180)
      So some of the first science objectives will be to check for life - live and in person instead of using some autonomous toy with a little scooper and mass spectrometer. If the people there can have 10 free hours a week they can do more research than remote NASA missions could ever hope to.
  • by Hentes (2461350) on Friday July 13, 2012 @03:54PM (#40642469)

    I still think it's a scam.

    • by arth1 (260657)

      I still think it's a scam.

      We may think it, but we may not say it. We may think that he knows fully well that it will be blocked, with emergency legislation if needed, because there's no way any government would allow sending its citizens to certain death, and with a supply chain and thus length of time they can survive that depends on viewer ratings and one media company not going belly up. So we may think that he does this to part gullible investors from their cash. We just can't say it.

      • by randomencounter (653994) on Friday July 13, 2012 @05:28PM (#40643731)

        Death is the only thing that is certain.

        This sounds like an opportunity to *live*.

      • by Antipater (2053064) on Friday July 13, 2012 @06:06PM (#40644157)

        because there's no way any government would allow sending its citizens to certain death, and with a supply chain and thus length of time they can survive that depends on viewer ratings and one media company not going belly up.

        Would a government allow sending a citizen into a similarly hazardous environment, on a transport with a 50% failure rate, with zero possibility of rescue, his length of life entirely dependent on the soldering ability of whatever schmuck connected the control and life-support systems? Oh wait, they did that.

        The US sent up Glenn, Carpenter, Schirra, and Cooper on Atlas rockets, which tended to blow up on launch literally half the time. And I won't even mention the risks Soviet cosmonauts went through. When it comes to space exploration, pretty much everything is risk of certain death. Pretending a government will step in and stop an exploration because of something like that? Not going to happen.

        • by dbIII (701233)

          And I won't even mention the risks Soviet cosmonauts went through

          Probably because the USSR rocket program was a bit more mature at the time so the risks were less :(
          Why does everything have to turn into a penis waving competition?
          If the Russians didn't care about their pilots they wouldn't have sent a dog first, it's the same with the USA and the chimps. Each launch explosion and the subsequent investigations cut the odds of failure back a hell of a lot so the launch risks were very low before they even se

        • by arth1 (260657)

          Would a government allow sending a citizen into a similarly hazardous environment, on a transport with a 50% failure rate, with zero possibility of rescue, his length of life entirely dependent on the soldering ability of whatever schmuck connected the control and life-support systems? Oh wait, they did that.

          The US sent up Glenn, Carpenter, Schirra, and Cooper on Atlas rockets, which tended to blow up on launch literally half the time. And I won't even mention the risks Soviet cosmonauts went through. When it comes to space exploration, pretty much everything is risk of certain death. Pretending a government will step in and stop an exploration because of something like that? Not going to happen.

          That's comparing apples to durian.
          Going out in a blaze of glory is heroic.
          Dying over a long period of time is horrific.

        • by Teancum (67324)

          Governments don't seem to do much to stop people from doing BASE jumping, except for perhaps trespassing laws that attempt to keep people from jumping off the roof of large buildings. More than a few of those who engage in such activity have been unsuccessful over the years as well.

          Seriously, I think it is wrong for the government to get involved in telling you what you should or shouldn't do on your own dime, or if a private group wants to get involved and help them out to be silly or stupid. Evel Knieve

      • by pluther (647209)
        Maybe.

        I'm not discounting the possibility.

        I'm still sending in my application, though.

    • Greenland the original colonizing land scam.
      • Greenland was a lot warmer when the Vikings first got there. Otherwise its medieval settlers would have said "Yeah, oops, never mind," and turned right back around.

  • by nazsco (695026)

    i still want to know where you will get/produce the amount of toilet paper for the mission.

    And why any possible solution is not used on earth.

    • by Baloroth (2370816)

      The solution is perfectly simple. A squirt of nice, warm water, which will then be recycled to drink (probably along with their urine and humidity from sweat). That should also answer the question of why it isn't used on earth (although I believe the Japanese do use it or something similar, I'd assume without the recycling bit, but maybe I assume too much).

      • by niado (1650369)
        The device you are describing is called a Bidet. [wikipedia.org]

        I've often wondered why they aren't more popular in western countries.
      • by magarity (164372)

        water, which will then be recycled to drink (probably along with their urine and humidity from sweat). That should also answer the question of why it isn't used on earth

        Yes, it is; you just don't take a long enough view of the recycling system.

    • by perpenso (1613749) on Friday July 13, 2012 @04:24PM (#40642943)
      Well there are the "non-edible parts of the plants" mentioned in the Q&A. Some sort of "paper" manufacture seems plausible.
  • by mcmonkey (96054) on Friday July 13, 2012 @04:07PM (#40642675) Homepage

    The one questions I wanted addressed was not included. What will be the sex make-up of the crew?

    It seems to me that a mission of this type which is meant to be permanent must by necessity focus on the production of those things which are necessary for survival on Mars. This means that your colonists, and they should be called colonists, will need to focus on the production of air, water, food, living space, and manufactured goods, in that order.

    No. 4 people are not "colonists." That is, I would not consider 4 people to be a colony--unless you have plans to add to those first four. 4 dudes is not a permanent settlement.

    Now if those 4 people get in the business of making more people, those are colonists. So your list is short, of one item at least. "[The colonists] will need to focus on the production of air, water, food, living space, babies, and manufactured goods, in that order."

    • "And they will prepare the settlement for the second crew that lands two years after. Every two years a new crew will arrive, such that the settlement will slowly become a small village and a more attractive place to live for more and more people."

      Reading. It's a good thing.

    • by Baloroth (2370816) on Friday July 13, 2012 @04:20PM (#40642891)

      4 people is insufficient genetically to produce a viable colony, so their sex makeup is more or less irrelevant. They can only establish the precursor to an expanding colony, not the whole colony. Add to this that you really don't want 1-3 people to be unable to conduct work for extended periods of time (while pregnant), and that babies further require more time after birth to watch and educate, and you can see that that should wait until they have a larger colony established (at least 10-20 people at a minimum, I would say).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Matheus (586080)

        Did anyone read the posting?

        "Men wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, and bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success."

        "Men" being the important word here. They are not looking for a breeding crew on the first trip. They are looking for workers. I'm presuming future missions would be more diverse (especially if they are trying to build a real colony).

        • by nelk (923574) on Friday July 13, 2012 @05:26PM (#40643705)

          Did anyone read the posting?

          "Men wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, and bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success."

          "Men" being the important word here. They are not looking for a breeding crew on the first trip. They are looking for workers. I'm presuming future missions would be more diverse (especially if they are trying to build a real colony).

          Did you read the posting? That ad was for an expedition to the south pole, not for this mission.

        • by Rie Beam (632299)

          I think you missed something important, fellow -- that was an advertisement for the South Pole expedition and actually has nothing to do with the above story.

      • by jpapon (1877296)
        You could just bring women and a bunch of frozen sperm.
    • by plopez (54068)

      I've said this before, just send up females. Females are smaller, lighter, have a lower metabolism and are less aggressive. When the colony reaches a certain size, send up a sperm bank.

      • by FatLittleMonkey (1341387) on Friday July 13, 2012 @05:48PM (#40643937)

        But who will open their jars? Who!

      • by pluther (647209)
        ...and are less aggressive

        You obviously don't have any sisters.

      • by dbIII (701233)

        I've said this before, just send up females. Females are smaller, lighter

        That's the entire premise for the anime "Rocket Girls". The skintight spacesuits in the anime do exist to a point although haven't been used in space yet, the solid and liquid fuel descriptions are spot on, the physics is ok, and the pilot does a Buzz Aldrin with no navigation computer (not quite a docking like Buzz but still complex burn calculations). A secondary character is a bit of a minor magical girl for comic relief mostly, b

    • by Tjp($)pjT (266360)
      If you are looking at colonization, send 4 women and redundant cryopaks of semen. Women have less weight burden on average so cheaper on resources, and women stand high g flight better so less complications there. And to maximize diversity you'll need 30 people on average to become stable without in breeding issues. So also consider some frozen embryos.

      But this expedition is likely not focused on colonization... That alone would change the cost and weight balance unfavorably. The only way these folks woul
  • Media partners telling you that the revenue model is viable is far from them telling you that they're going to hop on board and foot the bill. Particularly given the rather speculative nature of the venture -if the crew dies in landing, that's a lot of lost revenue for the studios (in spite of the short term ratings spike that it will undoubtedly garner).

    • Or - hey this one is even better - the astronauts get tehre, they're successful, and media interest drops off along with ratings as the first year drones on.

      Suddenly funding dries up, nobody wants to renew. So sorry, we can't afford to send any more crews out. Too bad, nice knowing you!

      Don't get me wrong, I think this is an ambitious, great plan - but funding it through reality TV has way too many pitfalls.

      • by plopez (54068)

        Ship back Mars souveniers and auction them off at Christies. E.g. Mars rocks, sand samples, tomatoes grown on Mars etc.

      • That scenario may be likely, but I seriously doubt it would occur in only one year. That, and the demographic for viewers for streaming footage of the first humans colonizing another planet is probably a little bit different and less fickle than the demographic for shows like Jersey Shore or the Kardashians. I don't watch reality TV other than a show like The First 48, but I would watch the first offworld colony for many, many reasons beyond interpersonal drama between the inhabitants.

        • That scenario may be likely, but I seriously doubt it would occur in only one year

          Viewer numbers dropped by Apollo 12. By Apollo 13, most networks didn't cover the live crosses after launch (until, you know...). By Apollo 17, they didn't cover any, it was a minor story on the nightly news. And that was with three channels, no cable, no internet. Today, we don't even watch the war.

          To fund a continuing Mars mission, it would have to rate as well as the Olympics, month after month, year after year. And the more you try to monetise it, the more you drive people away.

          • And by Apollo 18, they were in full cover up mode.

            Of course once the sequel to "Apollo 13" hit theatres, that cat was out of the bag. Odd that they skipped straight to "Apollo 18", and didn't even have Tom Hanks do a cameo.

          • To fund a continuing Mars mission, it would have to rate as well as the Olympics, month after month, year after year.

            No it wouldn't. It would have to do as well as the Olympics does over the month or so they are broadcast, but it would have a whole year to reach those numbers.

        • The first moon landing was watched by an estimated 600 million people.
          The Olympic games are watched by an estimated 3.2 billion.
          Sure, a lot of people would watch the first manned Mars mission, but the case for "more people watching than watch the Olympics" is still weak.

          Think how many SciFi shows have been canceled because they cost too much to produce. Now consider that "too much" is still less than 100 million a year, or about 1.6% of six billion.

          • The first moon landing was watched by an estimated 600 million people.

            Right, in 1969, on their tiny little black and white sets.

            The Olympic games are watched by an estimated 3.2 billion.

            60 years later.

            Sure, a lot of people would watch the first manned Mars mission, but the case for "more people watching than watch the Olympics" is still weak

            Yeah it's week, but I imagine that half the planet would tune it at some point over a year.

      • If the company ran out of funding, would the world's governments just let these folks die, or would NASA and/or a combination of countries end up taking over the supply missions?

        Perhaps their business model is relying on the fact that once they get people there, it is very hard to make the decision to stop sending them the necessities for life.

    • by Mal-2 (675116)

      Media partners telling you that the revenue model is viable is far from them telling you that they're going to hop on board and foot the bill. Particularly given the rather speculative nature of the venture -if the crew dies in landing, that's a lot of lost revenue for the studios (in spite of the short term ratings spike that it will undoubtedly garner).

      Such risks are insurable, and there are specialist syndicates of Lloyd's of London who would pick it up. Any time the risk can be quantified with any degree of certainty, there will be someone willing to roll the dice -- as long as it comes with a "house advantage". The fact that each risk is a unique event does not matter if the gamblers can cover a sufficient number of them.

  • Find some Caves (Score:5, Interesting)

    by na1led (1030470) on Friday July 13, 2012 @04:17PM (#40642855)
    If Mars had running water, there should be some caves. If you can find deep enough caverns, then you could have a better chance of sustaining life.
  • Baggage (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Friday July 13, 2012 @04:25PM (#40642975) Homepage

    "I've got loads of emotional and physical baggage and I don't think I should go. Given all this baggage I've got, how can anybody else possibly go there??"

    Who chooses the questions? Seriously...

  • by coldsalmon (946941) on Friday July 13, 2012 @04:30PM (#40643035)

    "Providing them with a way to produce habitable volume and energy with local materials is also high on our list, but these technologies are not 'off the shelf'. Mars One plans to send out a request for proposals to have these technologies developed."

    Translation: We have no idea how to implement our ideas; we don't even know if it's physically possible to do so. We're just hoping somebody else can solve these problems before our money runs out.

  • Got nothing better to do here and it looks like things are going to hell in a hand basket anyway. At least there everything you do has a purpose and makes a difference. As for longevity, I've learned that everyone dies sooner or later - some much too sooner. How you live is more important than when you die.
  • You are not writing a book! Just use the word four.

    • by u64 (1450711)

      I just assumed they only selected four persons that could sing together as a quartet.

      Maaaaaars
                Maaaaaaaars
                        Maaaaaaaaaars
                                Maaaaaaaaaaaaars!

      Nice. Now do 'row row row your boat'.

  • by cvtan (752695) on Friday July 13, 2012 @04:45PM (#40643227)
    1) Does the Bible apply to people on Mars?

    2) Can the entirety of the Earth's internet be cached on local Martian servers to provide entertainment equivalent to being on Earth?

    • Does the Bible apply to people on Mars?

      What does that even mean?

      Can the entirety of the Earth's internet be cached on local Martian servers to provide entertainment equivalent to being on Earth?

      *Can* it? Of course it's technically possible. Will it? No, why bother with the massive full-time data transmission and storage requirements just for that? It would be far more efficient to mirror specific websites, like Wikipedia, that are likely to be used often. The colonists could request a particular website be mirrored if they want to browse it in "real time". That's obviously an issue with sites pulling data from other sites though, like Facebook "like" buttons or login

    • by dbIII (701233)
      Does it matter? Consider Shackelton's 1914 expedition, a lot of guys living under an upturned boat on a tiny beach hemmed in with cliffs with a single book between the lot of them. None of them went crazy. We don't need distractions to stay sane.
      I can fit more on a little eink book reader than anyone could possibly read in a couple of years anyway.

      The Bible bit is weird so you'll need to say what you mean. Even extreme fundamentalists eat bacon so consider bits of the Bible don't apply anyway.
  • Brzzt! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thomst (1640045) on Friday July 13, 2012 @04:49PM (#40643285) Homepage

    Fifty square meters of space is utterly insufficient to grow enough food for 4 people, regardless of whether you stack "some" plants four units high. Period, end of discussion.

    I'd say this plan is a long way from sufficiently baked. Much as I'd like to see it succeed, Lansdorp's response on the subject of food production makes it clear that this is, in fact, a scam.

    Too bad. I'd've loved to live long enough to see a permanent colony on Mars.

    • Re:Brzzt! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Carnildo (712617) on Friday July 13, 2012 @06:30PM (#40644375) Homepage Journal

      Fifty square meters of space is utterly insufficient to grow enough food for 4 people, regardless of whether you stack "some" plants four units high. Period, end of discussion.

      50 square meters of greenhouse (or, more likely, 150-200 cubic meters of greenhouse volume) fed by 10,000 square meters of solar panels can produce an impressive amount of food, if done properly. You've got continuous daylight, no seasonal cycles, and the option to provide elevated CO2 levels, all of which can increase plant growth rates dramatically. Stack your plants four-high with individual lighting, and you should be able to get 10,000 square meters of productivity out of a 50-square-meter greenhouse.

      (The reason this isn't done much on Earth is that farmland is cheap, while solar panels are expensive. At Martian prices, the opposite is true.)

      • Let's just do some back of the envelope math for the energy required for the lights. Like you suggest, solar panels are about your only option for power. Solar panels are still stuck at about 15% efficiency. Insolation on Mars is about 44% of Earth. Plus inefficiencies from power transmission and the LED bulbs. Altogether, for every square meter of productivity, your going to need about 30 square meters of solar panels. So to get 10,000 square meters worth of productivity, you're going to need at least 300
        • by dbIII (701233)
          There's someone growing plants at the South Pole base testing out ideas for colonising Mars as you write, mostly lighting requirements. There's others trying to work out how to turn martian dust into soil, and all the complicated atmosphere problems. While there's been a lot of progress it's still a long way from anyone throwing around numbers like 50 metres, we're still trying to sort out orders of magnitute! So while it's fun to do the calcs they can be very rough and give you answers that are just as
  • I would point out that there are places on Earth that require imported food for the local population to survive. I don't mean places like Sudan. I mean a place like Hawaii (90% of food is imported).
    • by Krater76 (810350)

      I mean a place like Hawaii (90% of food is imported).

      It doesn't have to be. The Hawaiian people did pretty well long before Captain Cook ever knew it existed.

      But, I get your point. And Mars ain't Maui. If one to run out of food you can't just go fishing or grab a coconut off of a tree.

  • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Friday July 13, 2012 @05:05PM (#40643445) Journal

    Waay too many basic questions are being ignored. A big one is what to do about cosmic radiation. This is interplanetary space, not low Earth orbit. And this is months of exposure, not a few days as with the moon landings. Everyone could be dying of radiation poisoning by the time they reach Mars, and the problem doesn't end upon reaching the surface. Mars has no global magnetic field, no ozone layer, no thick atmosphere.

    We ought to experiment with plants on Mars before sending people. Some future unmanned probe could do that. Even before that, we ought to succeed first with a Biosphere 2 type of experiment right here on Earth. These guys want to leapfrog all these boring preliminaries and go straight to the top. It's like proposing to climb Mt. Everest with 18th century tech, before discovering whether lesser, easier peaks can be summited at all.

    Life would be extremely precarious. One tiny little mistake could kill a person, or even the whole colony. Even if no one makes a mistake, ignorance could still prove fatal.

    I find the thoughts on video footage surreal. That's the least of the problems faced by any proposed manned Mars mission. Makes it hard to take their notions seriously.

    • Yeah, seems like they're skipping Apollo 1 to Apollo 10 completely, and going straight to Apollo 11. A lot of flights would need to take place before sending people.

    • by Carnildo (712617)

      Waay too many basic questions are being ignored. A big one is what to do about cosmic radiation. This is interplanetary space, not low Earth orbit. And this is months of exposure, not a few days as with the moon landings. Everyone could be dying of radiation poisoning by the time they reach Mars, and the problem doesn't end upon reaching the surface. Mars has no global magnetic field, no ozone layer, no thick atmosphere.

      We've sent hundreds of probes into interstellar space, and many of them were equipped wi

      • Among the people who are planning this mission, the answers are well-known, and the questions are about as interesting as "where are we going to get the steel to build the launch vehicles?

        All engineers and scientists must just look like a bunch of incompetant magicians that just can't find the right spell to you :(

    • by Mal-2 (675116)

      It makes much more sense to plan for a lunar colony. It would require the same survival technology (except for the CO2), it's a lot closer making near-real-time communications possible, the communications equipment can be pointed the same way all the time (plus or minus 8 degrees), there is water ice at the poles of both, the lunar gravity well is much smaller as is the distance much less for returning mined materials (probably Helium-3), and if a polar crater location is chosen, solar power is available at

  • "Men wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, and bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success."

    Despite the ominous tone of the ad, the response was overwhelming.

    Too bad the ad [cipr.co.uk] probably never existed.

  • Experience! (Score:4, Funny)

    by tgv (254536) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @03:20AM (#40646801) Journal

    Don't underestimate these people. They've got a huge amount of experience between them. One of them worked on wind electricity, another studied astronomy and worked at an observatory, a third one is a graphical designer, and the fourth studied business and communication. That's way more engineering knowledge than NASA had for the Apollo missions. Well, perhaps not, but at least this mission will be on facebook with gorgeous illustrations. Suck that, NASA! You didn't manage to put Neil Armstrong on facebook!

    And as someone pointed out on a Dutch forum: for 6G$ you're not likely to get more than the weight of a small van in orbit around the Earth.

    Perhaps the ore paranoid here are right, and it's a scam. But what idiot would fall for it?

Assembly language experience is [important] for the maturity and understanding of how computers work that it provides. -- D. Gries

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