If you could be one of the very first people to travel to and live on Mars, would you do it?
Now, imagine that you could <em>never</em> come back. Would you still do it?
It might sound like science fiction, but this is the very real proposition being made by Mars One, a private firm based in the Netherlands that is organizing the first manned flight to Mars, set to depart in 2023. To repeat: not a joke.
What’s more, you are welcome to submit your application. In fact, more than 78,000 people already have and you can peruse videos sent by many applicants <a title="Mars One Homepage" href="http://applicants.mars-one.com/overview/newest/desc/1" target="_blank">here</a>. (A one-minute video is required as part of the application.) These are people who are willing – or at least believe they are willing – to give up life on Earth to be a pioneer on the Mars frontier.
It’s a serious undertaking, to say the least, and understanding the attraction is simple: You will be among the first humans ever in the history of the species to establish a colony on an alien planet. Your name will be in the history books as long as the light of humankind continues to shine, and it won’t be a footnote, either. It will be <em>huge</em>. Schools, bridges and buildings will bear your name.
And, you’ll be famous, because Mars One intends to document and broadcast your life to Earthlings as a way to fund your continued support on Mars. It’s a bit terrifying to think of a “Real World: Mars” scenario unfolding in outer space, but we’re guessing the eight years of training prior to launch and the rigorous selection process (which will involve an audience vote in Selection Round 3), should help minimize that possibility.
The downsides, though, are significant and permanent. As CEO Bas Lansdorp reminds prospective applicants, there is no birdsong on Mars. That’s his way of saying most of the things you hold dear about Earth will simply not be present on the Red Planet. It’s a chilling fact that’s hard to imagine. Optimists will say, “Yeah, but we’ll still have the Internet!” The more circumspect among us will note, however, that the Internet is truly a poor substitute for reality.
Think about it. No more long walks to … anywhere. No more trips to the zoo. No more forests. No more beaches. No more seasons. No more fresh air. Hell, no more <em>air</em>. Period.
You will die on Mars surrounded by your Martian family, who will not be the family who raised you and loved you on Earth. That is the easiest and least sugar-coated way to summarize the immense sacrifice you will have to make. It doesn’t get any more intense than that.
So! What do you think? Would you go to Mars? <a title="ATG Stores Homepage" href="http://www.atgstores.com/" target="_blank">ATGStores.com</a> welcomes you to share your thoughts on this groundbreaking endeavor.