By now you’ve probably heard of Mars One, the Dutch nonprofit that aims to put colonists on Mars permanently by 2023, and intends to turn the selection, training, and colonization process into must-see reality television. The application process ended on August 31, at which point over 165,000 people from around the world had applied for the project. All of them insisted that they were ready to leave behind Earth and all the people they know forever to become red planet pioneers. Of course, even the boldest and most cocksure applicants can’t truly know what they might be getting themselves into. The problem is that Mars One may not know either.
The Mars One plan has drawn plenty of criticism: NASA, to whom money woes are all too familiar, doubts the feasibility of racking up enough funding for such a venture (that’s where the reality TV part comes in, ostensibly), and others worry about all the technical requirements of such a campaign. Can we really get a human crew to Mars without exposing them to scary levels of radiation? Will we be able to send and deploy all the necessary structures ahead of the colonists’ arrival? Will they have enough to eat?