There’s an estimated 7.1 billion people on Earth (as of 2013), and 100 of those have been chosen for a chance to go to Mars. The Dutch-based Mars One has chosen 50 men and 50 women to compete on a reality-TV show for a chance to win one of 24 one-way trips to Mars. It sounds like the worst, most fascinating show in TV history, and a pretty terrific opportunity to investigate the psyche of someone who would willingly be sent to a barren, dusty planet with no way to return.
There’s zero guarantee the mission will make the over 30 million mile trip to Mars—or even get off the ground in the first place. But that’s the risk these people are willing to take. They’ll give their lives to be remembered as the people from the Red Planet. If the mission does happen, though, the 24 people will attempt to colonize a planet scientists believe used to be suitable for microbial life. In the name of human progress, I suppose.
The reality-TV show will be designed to test the mettle of competitors in stressful situations, along with how they get along with others. It will be a test of candidates’ physical and mental fortitude, the latter of which is the more important part. How a person acts here on Earth could be completely different from how they act on Mars.
“Being one of the best individual candidates does not automatically make you the greatest team player, so I look forward to seeing how the candidates progress and work together int he upcoming challenges,” said Norbert Kraft, Mars One’s chief medical officer.
Mars One executives said they have been impressed thus far by the candidates involved. Be that as it may, there’s no real way to simulate what these people are in for. Scientists can simulate the planet’s atmosphere and conditions. But testing a person’s mental strength is a completely different issue. Sure, a month or two on the planet might be uneventful. But these people will be isolated on the planet permanently, which could eventually lead to problems. The probability of someone having a mental breakdown is pretty high.
A full list of the 100 candidates can be seen here—among the 50 men and 50 women, there are 31 Americans, 31 Europeans, 16 from Asia, 7 from Africa and 7 from Oceania. Ages range from as young as 20, all the way up to 51. Mars One is hoping to get its first crewed flight off the ground by 2024.