A student from Victoria University in Wellington is still in the running to be amongst the first humans to set foot on Mars. 200,000 people applied to be part of the 2024 mission to the red planet, and now only 1058 remain in the selection process.
There is a catch: this is a one-way mission. None of the astronauts who leave for Mars will ever return to earth.
To many, this seems like madness. Leave your family, friends, home, home planet, all that you have ever known, to willingly travel on an eight-month space flight to Mars, and that you’ll spend the rest of your life, and die, there.
The point of this trip, planned and to be carried out by the Mars-One programme, is to establish a human colony. After the 2024 trip, four more people at a time will travel to Mars every two years.
Is it crazy?
It’s the latest example of something that humans are hardwired to do. (Hardwired means that it is in our brains and genetics to make us do something.) Ever since humans existed they have travelled further and discovered new things. We crossed mountains and oceans, been to the moon. And Mars is what’s next.
The great journeys of history are examples of this: Kupe travelled through Polynesia in the 10th Century and discovered Aotearoa New Zealand; Christopher Columbus left Spain in 1492 and ended up finding what we know know as America. The Vikings, Francis Drake, Marco Polo, Amy Johnson, Amelia Earhart and many, many others… all of whom took incredible risks in order to find out more about our world. They all set off without being certain they’d ever return.
There is no way that humans will be able to live on other planets without these daring pioneers. People, like those who’ve volunteered for the Mars-One mission, who are courageous enough to be prepared never to set foot on earth again, in order that we – the human race – can discover more about the universe.
Would you go?
Article written by Ben Egerton
[colored_box color=”green”]This is an opinion-based article designed to provoke debate, discussion and further inquiry
amongst your students:[/colored_box]
[colored_box color=”yellow”]Critical Thinking Challenges:
1. Would you go?
2. Why should humans travel to, and set up a colony on, Mars?
[colored_box color=”green”]Practical Tasks:
Imagine you are in charge of setting up a colony on Mars.
How would you do it? What would you need? What skills would you make sure the people who are coming have? What jobs would need doing? Who would you bring from earth first (remember, only four people at a time)? What would you bring from earth? What would you do about practical things like food, water, needing the bathroom, washing, treating injuries or illness? Entertainment? What else would you need to think about? How about ensuring that the colony could look after itself without people always coming from earth?
Design your own version of what the colony on Mars might look like.
Share your ideas with classmates or discuss them with another class.
[colored_box color=”red”]Have Your Say: