January 09, 2013, 1:52 PM —
Source: jasonb42882 via Flickr
Mars One, the Netherlands-based non-profit that plans to colonize the Red Planet starting in 2023, hopes to finance the project by staging a multiyear global reality television show that will start later this year with an astronaut selection process and continue over the course of eight years of training through the colonists' first years on Mars.
We can only hope the company doesn't succumb to pressure from television network executives to allow viewers to have a say in picking the astronauts. (I can hear a pseudo-hip TV exec now: "You want money, Mars One? Well, you need ratings. And that means getting the audience involved! Look what it did for The Voice!")
Assuming sanity prevails and the "most colorful" contestants (in other words, those with borderline personality disorders) are weeded out, these are the personal characteristics that Mars One says will be necessary for candidates to qualify as permanent Mars colonists (and also, by the way, permanent employees of Mars One):
* Age 18 minimum (which means you'll be at least 28 when you land on your new home planet). No upper age limit has been set, but we probably can assume Baby Boomers need not apply.
* Resiliency -- "Your thought processes are persistent, you persevere and remain productive, you see the connection between your internal and external self, you are at your best when things are at their worst," etc. In other words, you're not going to crack under the pressure.
* Adaptability -- "You adapt to situations and individuals, while taking into account the context of the situation, you know your boundaries, and how/when to extend them, you are open and tolerant of ideas and approaches different from your own." Translation: You're not a freak or sociopath.
* Curiosity -- "You ask questions to understand, not to simply get answers, you are transferring knowledge to others, not simply showcasing what you know or what others do not." No narcissists, please.
* Ability to trust -- "You trust in yourself and maintain trust in others, your trust is built upon good judgment," etc. Precisely the thing that would spell your doom on Survivor.
* Creativity/Resourcefulness -- "You are flexible in how an issue/problem/situation is approached, you are not constrained by the way you were initially taught when seeking solutions, your humor is a creative resource, used appropriately as an emerging contextual response." You need to be able to see the lighter side of being stranded on a barren, forsaken planet.
While English will be the "official" language of the colonists, Mars One says it will accept applications from any country in the world.
Mars One plans to train several groups of astronauts concurrently to account for dropouts due to illness, unsuitability for the mission and changing of minds. If all goes according to schedule, four astronauts will blast off from Earth in September 2022 for their new, permanent home. More settlers will arrive every other year after.
Mars One says it already has received more than 1,000 emails from people eager to be selected, even though the application process has not yet begun. The company urges interested people to sign up for its Astronaut Application Updates.
Below is a video produced by Mars One explaining its plan. It all sounds very exciting, but is it realistic? Feel free to weigh in below in the comments section.