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An Irish astrophysicist has made it to the final 100 people who could travel to Mars and never return.
Trinity College Dublin scientist Joseph Roche was named in the latest shortlist for the Mars One project today.
If chosen for the final 40, he will fly to the red planet 55 million km away and establish a permanent human settlement on Mars by 2025.
All those who make the journey will leave behind their families and friends and never return to Earth.
But Dr Roche believes the opportunity to be involved in the ground-breaking mission for mankind outweighs his ties to our planet.
He said he was feeling “fine” about the mission at a conference last November.
The scientist added: “I have volunteered for a one way mission to Mars.
“I have volunteered to spend the next 10 years of my life training and preparing so that I might have the opportunity to say goodbye to family and friends, and everything I know on Earth, to venture deeper into the solar system to a cold desolate planet were I would live out the rest of my days.
“And how do I feel about such a mission. Just fine. And a little bit excitable. Because Mars is there to be explored.”
More than 200,000 people first applied to take part in the privately funded one-way mission, which is backed by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp.
Dr Roche was one of three applicants from Ireland that made it to through to the shortlist of 1,058 candidates, which was announced at the start of last year. IT professional Steve Menaa, a Frenchman living in Cork , and Dr Catherine McGrath did not make it to the next round.
Rigorous medical tests and online interviews were used to whittle down the candidates to the 50 male and 50 female hopefuls announced yesterday.
America has the highest number of candidates in the running, with 39 on the list.
Another 31 people come from Europe, 16 from Asia, seven from Africa, and a further seven from Oceania.
A statement from Mr Lansdorp said they were impressed with the candidates that had reached this stage of the selection process.
He said: “The large cut in candidates is an important step towards finding out who has the right stuff to go to Mars.
“These aspiring martians provide the world with a glimpse into who the modern day explorers will be.” The final 40 “Marstronauts” will travel to the planet in fours every two years from 2016.
Because of the huge cost of the mission, which is expected to cost up to €5billion, there is no prospect of return.
They will have to stay on the planet living in pods that will make up “Outpost Alpha”, which Mars One say will include living quarters, private areas, food production, life support systems, surface access, recreational areas and mission operations.
People on Earth will also be able to follow the astronauts’ progress on the planet, as Lansdorp hopes to partly fund the trip by selling the rights to a reality TV show of the project.
None of this seems to phase Dr Roche who is optimistic about the mission.
Although he did admit that he would miss blue skies, the smell of freshly-cut grass and football if given a life in space.
In a TEDx talk he said: “The single most important thing that could come from this endeavour is that in striving for a future when humans can live independently on two planets, we help ensure the continued survival of the human race.”
In a blog he wrote following the last selection round a year ago, Dr Roche said: “We are at the very early stages and there are trials ahead, not just in terms of getting through the selection process, but for the project itself to overcome the technical and financial challenges that it will meet at every step.
“There is no denying that it’s an exciting project to be part of and it allows us to bring the ethics of space exploration into a public debate.”


Radiation issues for manned Mars mission

sidebar radiation article

During the rover's cruise to Mars between December 2011 and July 2012, RAD showed that an astronaut would clock up the same radiation dose in a day that the average American receives in a year. If you exclude medical dosages, it would be 10 times more than the average American.

See original article from The Guardian here.

Materials that Halt Hazardous Space Radiation

Radiation has long been an issue when it comes to space travel. In fact, NASA's Mars rover Curiosity recently confirmed previous research on the hazards of space radiation, revealing that radiation levels on the way to the Red Planet are several hundred times higher than the those humans receive on Earth. Now, scientists may have found a way to shield astronauts from the hazards of this radiation.

See original article from Science World Report here.

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