March 10, 2011
More than 1,000 queue up for ‘one-way ticket’
“The time for a human mission to Mars is now,” write the editors of “A One Way Mission to Mars: Colonizing the Red Planet,” a collection of articles published in book form this month by the Journal of Cosmology.
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“The overall message of this volume is not just that going to Mars is a worthwhile scientific program and a great adventure worthy of Homo sapiens. It is that we can begin the project now,” write the editors, astrobiologists Paul Davies of Arizona State University and Dirk Schulze-Makuch of Washington State University.
“I truly believe that the exploration and eventual colonization of Mars is a critical step toward the long-term survival of our species, and this book, laying out the plan toward this endeavor, is a significant move in the right direction,” said professor Schulze-Makuch, director of the Laboratory for Astrobiological Investigations and Space Mission Planning in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Washington State University.
“This book provides us with a road map for how we can accomplish one of the major upcoming challenges for humankind,” Schulze-Makuch said.
This is not the first collaboration by Schulze-Makuch and Davies. The two authored “To Boldly Go: A One-Way Human Mission to Mars,” which appeared last October in the Journal of Cosmology. Their article attracted massive interest worldwide and launched the idea for a smaller sequel to the journal’s 970-page volume “The Human Mission to Mars: Colonizing the Red Planet.”
“The dream of humans going to Mars is a recurring theme of the scientific age,” said professor Davies, founding director of the BEYOND Center for Fundamental Concerts in Science at Arizona State University, where he teaches in the Department of Physics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
“To make this dream a reality requires an audacious plan: to send humans with a one-way ticket,” Davies said. “We are not talking about a suicide mission. Our plan is to put four astronauts on Mars to do great science, and build a base camp for others to follow.
“These trailblazers will be resupplied from Earth, and eventually joined by additional colonists. It will be the first step in building a permanent human presence on the Red Planet,” said Davies.
According to Davies and Schulze-Makuch, the huge advantage of a one-way mission is the enormous savings in costs and the long-term commitment required to space exploration, particularly Mars exploration. They write that by cutting out the return journey, the budget can be slashed by 80 percent, bringing a Mars mission within the reach of a consortium of space agencies and private operators.
“The lure of possible microbial life on Mars, which could have stunning consequences for our science and our understanding of our place in the universe is a major motivation for such a mission,” said Davies. “But the ultimate goal is to create a self-sustaining human colony on another planet as a safeguard for humanity should a mega-disaster occur on Earth.”
Would anyone be bold enough to volunteer for such a one-way mission?
“My inbox has been overflowing with messages from people eager to go. Some of them distinguished scientists,” said Davies.
Davies and Schulze-Makuch write in the introduction of the book: “Since the chapters in this volume appeared in journal form last year, we have been inundated with inquiries by hopeful people from all walks of life eager to obtain a one-way ticket, more than a thousand to date.” The volunteers include children, seniors in retirement, military professionals, computer science students and homemakers.
One of the writers is M.K.D., a 27-year-old male from Brazil. “I believe that humans should explore the universe as a way to ensure our survival as a species….I would love to be a part of this mission and be one of the first men and women who will begin the colonization of Mars, and prepare the way for future generations of explorers.”
Another, T.S., a 66-year old male, wrote: “Unlike many applicants perhaps, I like this planet. It’s been a nice home. I’ve been to all of the continents, even Antarctica. I only mention that to help you better understand my position. It’s just that at this stage of my life I feel I can do more. I’m sixty-six. What better way to wind down my life than to do something extraordinarily beneficial for mankind by helping him to understand another world? And in doing so to perhaps better understand his own.”
Excerpts from what some others who are seeking a ticket for a one-way mission to Mars wrote:
“I would go to colonize the planet Mars. I am 45 and nearing the appropriate age and also I feel a registered nurse would be a great asset to the project. I would like to be considered for the project when the time comes.”
“I am a police officer from NYC and would volunteer for a one way mission to Mars. If I could convince my wife to come of course. Sign me up and I’ll work on her.”
“Life on Mars – just think about it. No human being has ever been there. We’ve been trying to uncover its mysteries for years. There is the possibility of discovering life on a planet besides our Earth. My name is C.H. and I am a sixteen year old male for the United States of America.”
“The only qualifying reasons I have for going is I feel we need to continue the space program because of the benefits for all humankind. My experience (is) in the military, leadership abilities, and I am a clergy member of the United Methodist Church, in other words a spiritual advisor, and all that goes with being a pastor.”
“Mars is the future of humanity. Living on Earth may not be possible two or three hundred years from now and that might not be curable, so we have to seriously start thinking about a plan B….As a volunteer I think that this is my chance to do something good for humanity and for self. I’m a 22 year old guy, I live in Syria.”
In addition to these chapters, the nearly 400-page book begins with a chapter laying out arguments to immediately begin a series of missions to colonize Mars. Authored by Robert Zubrin, president of the Mars Society, the chapter argues that issues like radiation and low gravity can be overcome.
In the last chapter, Schulze-Makuch, Davies and Joseph Gabriel of cosmology.com, vision a life on Mars after the completion of a series of one-way missions, perhaps a century from now.
The book was the brainchild of Lana Tao, senior executive managing director of the Journal of Cosmology, which is edited and published by Rudolf Schild. More information is online at http://journalofcosmology.com.
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