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Mars Science

Over 1000 Volunteers For 'Suicide' Mission To Mars 453

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the i-want-out dept.
New submitter thAMESresearcher writes with a few updates on Mars One: "The Dutch company Mars One is organizing a one way mission to Mars 2023. In a press release that came out today, they say they have over a thousand applicants already. In the press release they also mention that they are now a not-for-profit Foundation. It sounds ambitious, but they have a Nobel prize winner, an astronaut, and several people from NASA on their board." The actual selection process starts early next year.
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Over 1000 Volunteers For 'Suicide' Mission To Mars

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  • by Hentes (2461350) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @09:51AM (#42191585)

    Shooting random volunteers on a one-way trip to Mars so they can Make a reality there? Sounds like a scam to me.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:01AM (#42191703)

    The microbes in your body and any brought along with the spaceship will make sure your corpse won't go to waste.

  • by hymie! (95907) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:07AM (#42191775)

    "My Ex-wife took the whole damn planet in the divorce. All I have left are my bones."

    That quote was one of the many many reasons I hated that movie. "Gee, we need to force a perfectly reasonable medical nickname onto this character. Is this mallet large enough?"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:09AM (#42191801)

    In all fairness the last expedition of Scott was pretty stupid. Plus, the man seemed to be kind of douche.

  • Re:WATER? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ledow (319597) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:13AM (#42191845) Homepage

    In an air-tight environment, almost all of that water is excreted again at some point. Most as water vapour in your breath, some as urine, some as sweat, some in your faeces etc.

    If you put a human in a hermetically-sealed box and gave them enough food and water for a week, that water would still be around in the box at the end. It's just a matter of collecting it.

    Move forward to a non-hermetically sealed box and imperfect collection mechanisms and all you have to do it make up the difference. That's significantly less.

    Your primary fuel will be hydrogen and oxygen. We actually think we can find most of that for a "return journey" by breaking down water found on the planet itself, it's so plentiful. Ignoring that, igniting said fuel (say, for warmth) produces pure water as the exhaust gas. Failing actually finding it on the planet, you can capture those gases from the air and make water by igniting hydrogen in oxygen. It's just a matter of time and electricity, both of which would (presumably) be plentiful on a mission to Mars.

    Ignoring *that* - there is water ice on Mars. We know it. And in 20 years time, we'll know it even better. If there isn't, then taking along enough to make up the losses for several months/years at a time is a no-brainer. Hell, we got to the moon for several people without water shortages, any mission to Mars will scale up similarly.

    Water really isn't a problem. Heat is your problem. Heating makes up a HUGE fraction of our energy usage even today, and Mars is colder (-143 to about 35 centigrade on the surface depending on latitude and time of day). So the hottest part of the hottest day on Mars is a warm summer's day, the coldest part of the coldest day is colder than the coldest recorded temperature ever on Earth.

    So whatever way you look at it, the energy needed to keep you warm, and your surroundings warm, especially if you're going to build a colony to support life long-term, is through the roof compared to the difficulty of digging down or extracting water from the atmosphere with even the most inefficient tools.

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:58AM (#42192339) Homepage Journal

    How about lichens?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lichen [wikipedia.org]

    They grow in the most inhospitable places on Earth. They may possibly adapt to some of the more hospitable places on Mars. Given the chance, they may thrive, and change the face of Mars. Just scatter a bunch around in the best looking places, give it a thousand years, and take another look!

  • by dpilot (134227) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:58AM (#42192341) Homepage Journal

    I find it odd/annoying that they call this a "suicide" mission rather than a "colonization" mission. The real essence here is that it's a one-way trip. I haven't seen anything to suggest that they're abandoning the colonists, or sending them to any more certain a death than we'd all see here on Earth.

    There is one problem with calling it "colonization", in that we're generally thinking of post-reproductive-age people, and at some point any viable colony is going to need kids for its future. But given the assumption of a second wave, sending older people on the first wave probably is a good idea. Get the basics nailed down before worrying about kids.

    Or have I got this all wrong, and made assumptions myself? Are they planning on sending people on a one-way, fixed-duration mission, and there is no surviving past that duration?

  • by queazocotal (915608) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @11:04AM (#42192397)

    As some context on supplies.
    Completely open loop - no recycling - is 4.5Kg/day.
    If you recycle the dehumidifier water and urine, that comes down to 1.6kg/day.

    It's plausible to get it down to about a kilo a day, without having to do really hard things - close the carbon/nitrogen loops.
    This means ten tons gets you 30 years of food.

  • by Immerman (2627577) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @11:10AM (#42192473)

    Some people find the geological and potential biological history of Mars intensely interesting. Not to mention the potential biological *present* of Mars - if it ever had life then some/most of it is probably still there, just not on the surface (it's estimated that the vast majority, possibly high 90s%, of Earth life is subterranean microbes) Just because *you* don't think it competes with the next episode of Desperate Housewives isn't any sort of claim as to how inherently interesting it is. We've only begun to scratch the surface of the science to be done on Mars, and everything we've done to date could have been done in a week or two by a research team that was there in person.

    Then there's the thrill of being part of Man's first serious offworld expedition and breaking ground for the first offworld colony. Many would say that's worth probably never setting foot on Earth again, and as for the risks of living in a hostile environment, there's plenty of people who risk their lives on a regular basis working hazardous jobs and playing extreme sports. Not really that much of a difference here, except that you're risking your life for a far more magnificent cause and will likely make it into the history books.

  • by morgauxo (974071) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @12:09PM (#42193155)

    -- That would contaminate the soil forever

    Only if something manages to survive Mars' surface environment. That seems very unlikely. Now if you buried the bodies deep enough and did so very quickly... maybe... I doubt they would do that though, not unless it is determined that there is no native life first. Or.. native life is found and it turns out to be just the same microbes we have here already anyway (possible given meteor transport)

    -- It's in one category with global genocide

    Now you are assuming that not only do body microbes survive in the Martian environment (reasonable since freezing, desiccating low pressure environments with lot's of UV exactly mimics what microbes inside our guts see every day right?) but also that microbes adapted to our bodies' environment will actually out-compete native microbes which are adapted to the martian environment even in the martian environment

    Yes, we do see non-native species out-competing native ones here on Earth but they are only crossing continents. Normally when this happens the new environment is quite similar to the old one with the exception of a lack in well adapted predators. This is hardly the same as taking a microbe adapted to the human body and putting it on Mars which is almost the exact opposite of the human body (warm, wet and well shielded from pretty much everything vs cold dry and without most of the protection from space which we enjoy at the Earth's surface)

    -- we could never ever tell if there actually was life on mars

    anything found on Mars that isn't found on Earth is probably Martian. Any fossil from before human presence is definitely Martian.

  • by Immerman (2627577) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @12:18PM (#42193249)

    Obviously you've never spent time with dedicated scientists - I'm talking the "I've got a closet and comfortable sofa in my office and go home at least a couple times a week" sort. I assure you they do exist and are often very passionate, dynamic people. They just don't really care about the sorts of things most people care about.

    As for a lingering death, that's one thing you're pretty much guaranteed not to have on Mars. On Earth yes, especially in the U.S. - you're almost guaranteed one here as you spend your last weeks/months/years in the clutches of a medical industry that's going to go to extraordinary lengths to force your failing body to survive just a little bit longer. On Mars you'll probably die within seconds or minutes, possibly with a few hours beforehand to know it's coming (i.e. if stranded without hope of rescue with X hours of air left). You *might* get terminally sick/injured and be temporarily kept alive in the "medical bay", but it won't linger nearly as long as it would here.

  • by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @12:45PM (#42193605)

    I would go for the engineering challenge.

    I would fully understand the risk... the certainty that I would never again see my home. I'd never go scuba diving again. I'd never watch the sunrise in a forest. Shit, I'd even miss going to the gym! I'd never see my kids (they're 6 and 8) or any of their kids ever again. I'd never be able to pop down to the store and pick up a McGuffin or widget or a burger.

    I'd never get another FP on Slashdot.

    But I'd be on Mars. We'd be living with the leading edge of human technology, all alone, with no supplies ever coming by. Yes, I would die on Mars. Maybe within hours of landing. I've got somewhere between 60 and 70 years left on Earth, max. I'd get less than that on Mars, almost certainly. What I've learned, and learned the hard way, is that how long you live isn't as important as how WELL you've lived. Did you push your life to the limits? Did you live up to your potential? What do you regret not doing? Do it. Tomorrow never comes.

    Think of what the species would learn from a mission to Mars. That's well worth my life and gladly traded.

    And I'd do it for free. Just give me the use of the company vehicle for a few months, then room and board afterwards.

Riches: A gift from Heaven signifying, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased." -- John D. Rockefeller, (slander by Ambrose Bierce)

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