After launching earlier this year, Dutch non-profit organisation Mars One has begun accepting applications for a one-way trip to Mars. They aim to find four astronauts throughout a two year, televised search for Red Planet explorers, starting this summer.
Applicatants must be tough, adaptable, resourceful, and willing to work together as part of a team. They must also have a fancy for reality telly, as the project will be broadcast in very much the same fashion.
Speaking to the British Interplanetary Society (BIS), Mars One co-founder and chief executive officer Bas Lansdorp explained why it would be a one-way trip. During the seven-to-eight month journey, astronauts will lose bone and muscle mass, and after spending time within Mars' weaker gravity, it would be next to impossible to readjust back to life on Earth.
Successful applicants will receive special training to cope with the life-changing task ahead of them. Once on Mars, the team will use solar panels to generate energy. Water will be recycled and extracted from soil and the astronauts will grow their own food. They will also have emergency rations and receive regular supplies as new explorers join them every two years.
Of course, exciting as it all sounds, the chances for a grim death are numerous. Mars faces regular lashings from solar wind, radiation levels are high and the outside climate fluctuates more wildly than the mood of your drunken aunt at Christmas. The ambassador of the project, Professor Gerard 't Hooft, admits that there are as-yet unknown risks regarding exposure to Martian radiation.
The technical difficulties are also notable - living on Mars is, as you might understand, quite a difficult thing to manage. Martian gravity will have a great effect on the little things like plumbing and irrigation, and creating a prospering colony on a planet with no breathable air, or a hispitable climate, is an enormous expense - it will cost around £3.8 billion alone just to send the first group into space.
So, what does the future of this project hold? Will Life On Mars become mainstay telly? Will we all see a few frozen corpses on our screens and tut awkwardly? Or will the team unearth a prothean beacon, and pave the way for humanity's ascent into the stars?