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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News

 

My favorite Martian . . .

Posted 4/07/15 (Tue)

We brought you some information several months ago about a project called Mars One. It’s essentially the planning of a manned settlement to Mars in 2025.

Someone wants to put humans on Mars in 10 years, which is much  like Kennedy’s hope in 1961 to see men on the Moon before 1970.

That happened. As we all know, Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon July 20, 1969 and Buzz Aldrin did it a day later.

But do you really think someone will be able to do the same thing on Mars in just 10 years?

Most likely, but herein lies the issue. They’re not coming back. They will live the remainder of their lives in space and on the Martian surface. Even as this science gears up, there’s no way back.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always had this curiosity about things and when I was a kid, read a lot about space travel, UFOs, the solar system and the unmanned probes that were leaving Earth in the 1970s.

That’s all very interesting and Mars, which is somewhat similar to Earth in a lot of ways, is even more fascinating, but there isn’t a snowball’s chance in Tucson that I would volunteer to go to Mars and never come back.

You’ll never see your family again, you’ll never smell fresh-cut grass again, you won’t see the Chicago Cubs win the World Series (well, neither will we) and you’ll never be able to chug down a cold beer on a hot day.

I don’t know if I’d want to give that up just to get a free trip “next door.”

As you might imagine, however, there is a lot of intrigue with this mission. At one point, more than 200,000 people signed up for Mars One. In February, that was narrowed down to 100.

One of them is a young woman from Russia named Anastasiya. She is 29 years old, has a curiosity about space, but get this, she has a degree in space journalism from a Russian university.

Space journalism, hmmm!

She says right on her application that she can’t be the first space journalist, but can certainly be the first journalist on Mars.

There is a guy named Dan from the United States who is 53, a husband and a father.

When Soldiers go off to war, there is usually a hope, albeit a slim one at times, that’s you’ll be coming back. This guy knows he’s not coming back and will never see his wife and kids again.

The youngest person is a 19-year-old woman from Australia and the oldest is a man, 60, from Pakistan. That is their age now.

That means in 10 years that man from Pakistan will be 70. Is his body going to be able to withstand a trip that could take 16 months? And if so, how effective is he going to be when the mission begins?

All of the 100 candidates speak English so communication, apparently, won’t be a problem. They all have varied backgrounds from farming to computer technology and you’d expect that expertise would become part of the scenario after the first settlers get there.

There’s so much we don’t know about Mars. Granted, we know a lot, but there is a lot that remains a mystery.

Water, radiation, heat and cold, Martian gravity’s long-term effect on the human body, controlling contagions, can they grow food, is it safe to go for a walk and other questions will have to be answered.

Here’s another big potential problem, human psychology. OK, so these 100 people are 10 feet tall and bullet proof right now. But what happens in a few years when someone can’t take it anymore and snaps like a cinnamon stick?

Think about us here on the northern Great Plains when we have a harsh winter. If you remember 1996-97, a lot of us were drawing short tempers because of the intensity of the winter giving us a real case of cabin fever.

Mars One is indefinite. It’s forever and I don’t care how strong your mind is, there are going to be times when you question a decision like traveling to another planet with no hope of ever getting back.

Day to day it promises to be an adventure like no other. Geologically speaking, they’ll never run out of things to do.

I wonder what the night sky will look like? Those of us who grew up in North America are all so fascinated when we go the Southern Hemisphere and see the night sky. Will the Mars One settlers have that same fascination?

The questions are endless. The possibilities are endless. The analysis is endless.

If you have an interest in this, log on to www.mars-one.com. This website is loaded with information including that of a 2018 unmanned mission to Mars.