Netherlands – Mars One, a non-profit organization that has proposed to land the first humans on Mars and establish a permanent human colony there by 2032, is currently in the process of selecting six groups of four astronauts from more than 200,000 volunteers all over the world. They are ready to take on the challenge of reaching Mars for the first time. This occasion particularly will have the last astronauts earning a one way trip to Mars in eight years.

Out of that number, just 660 remain in the competition. They are now about to pass to the next round of selection that involves more on-camera interviews and group challenges to see how they would do the job as teams. The final selection stage will have the candidates facing what would be like to live in in the red planet, in the form of mocked-up Mars habitats.

Mars One wants to land the first humans on Mars and establish a permanent human colony. Photo credit: Mars One / Vox
Mars One wants to land the first humans on Mars and establish a permanent human colony. Photo credit: Mars One / Vox

For the astronauts in training to get used to the planet´s ground, the Mars One has put the contestants in training. They make them carry heavy equipment while travelling across rough ground in mountains from Hawaii, which is the most similar soil of the one in the red planet.

Humankind and technology joining forces to the fullest

Although the launch date is on 2024, there will be space missions in the meantime. In 2018, Mars One will send a lander to the planet to put on trial the technologic mechanisms and tools they 2024 mission would need. Along with the lander, a communications satellite is also setting off and programmed to connect the Earth and the trial mission via electronic messages.

Two years later, a tech rover is planned to leave to Mars. The rover is designed to do groundwork and trace out a convenient landing spot. The said place should be far enough north where the soil contains a good amount of water, and equatorial sufficient to benefit from plenty of sunlight.

Then in 2022, six cargo missions are scheduled to head off for Mars. Another intelligent rover is going along, as well as two living units and two life support units. They will land near the first rover, which will be waiting to tow them all into position and set up solar panels that the units could charge from. The life support´s job is to supply the habitat with a breathable atmosphere, 3,000 liters of water, and 120kg of oxygen kept in storage.

The rover and the overall instruments needed for the initiative come from a joint effort between the NASA Glenn Research Center and the University of Michigan. The venture is called Martian Aqueous Habitat Reconnaissance Suite (MAHRS). Among the other tools resulting from the collaborative venture are an optical microscope, a radiometer, a saltation probe, a soil wetness sensor, and an electric field sensor.

“We have four faces on the sensor. Those enable us to determine the particle flow and direction as the particles impact on the sensor. We can also determine the amount of impacts we get and the energy of the impacts,” said NASA Glenn engineer Larry Greer to the media correspondents.

A second Mars One crew is planned for takeoff two years after and expected to arrive the year before. Their own habitats and life-support units are meant to land within weeks of the first crew arriving. The rovers will pile Martian soil on top of the habitats to protect the astronauts from the harsh radiation on Mars.

More details about the mission

For the project´s founding, Mars One is raising money any way it can. Among the said ways are broadcasting rights, sponsorship deals, web crowd-funding, donations from philanthropists, companies and investors, and licensing intellectual property rights from inventions made while the missions are being prepared. The first launch, which costs $6bn (£4bn), plans to send a spacecraft carrying two men and two women on board, to the red planet.

Diverse media outlets are reporting that the nonprofit organization eyes to ally with either SpaceX or Lockheed Martin, two space devices building veterans, to come up with a rocket be the mission’s vehicle into Mars colonization.

For the landing on Martian soil, the lander module will detach from the spacecraft and descend to the surface. Once there, the crew will be picked up by one of the rovers and taken downwards to the habitat. There, the first goals for the team to accomplish would be to acclimatize to the gravity on Mars, which will take some time. Then they will have to develop more solar panels, and start their efforts to grow and cultivate food on Mars.

Another obstacle for the landing, and probably the hardest to rise above of, is the atmospheric pressure there is low, less than 1 percent of Earth’s surface pressure. This means that any probe or device will descend very rapidly to the surface of the planet, and must be slowed.

Source: Nature World News