We’ve covered some of the activities of the Mars One project since it first came on the scene and the subject never ceases to fascinate me. The idea of commercial space exploration is a great concept which I think will eventually be a game changer in scientific exploration, but these guys seem to be outside the bell curve in terms of their goals. In case you missed it initially, they plan to launch their own expedition to Mars for a small number of colonists much sooner than NASA can even imagine doing it. The catch, of course, is that it’s a one way trip. Still, hundreds of thousands of hopeful colonists signed up and now they’ve narrowed the field of candidates to double digits, with the lucky two dozen actual astronauts to be announced soon. (Universe Today)

Only 24 colonists will be selected for the dubious distinction of dying on Mars, but that hasn’t stopped 200,000 people from 140 countries from signing up and going through the selection process.

There are 100 people who have made it through the selection process so far. Another five day testing phase will knock that number down to 40, out of which 24 will be chosen as the lucky ones. The latest testing will start soon. According to Mars One, most of their testing is the same as the testing that NASA does on their astronauts.

There are too many things about this project which just sound completely dodgy. We don’t know how they plan to actually construct the ships required to get all of the people and equipment to the red planet nor what sort of controls are in place for the development process. All of these considerations don’t even take into account the fact that they’re telling the hopeful astronauts right up front that they have no way of bringing them back nor getting any sort of help sent up to them in the event of an emergency. The deal is that you are going there to die. The question of how long that will take is up in the air.

Previous experiments in establishing entirely contained biospheres in the desert southwest ran into huge problems. In one case, the concrete in the foundation was absorbing oxygen at a faster than predicted rate and threatening to kill the inhabitants. Other, smaller problems were too numerous to list. So as for Mars One, even assuming that they get a habitat set up and somehow land 24 people there, how viable are the conditions going to be? Last year, one team from the M.I.T. looked over the project and told the wannabe colonists that they probably wouldn’t need to bring too many changes of pajamas. (Daily Mail)

Here are the highlights of their findings:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists analyzed Mars One’s plan to create a colony on Mars by the next decade

They say it has a number of flaws and the proposal is doomed to failure

First they say that the astronauts will not have enough food and will starve

Plants will also produce too much oxygen in their habitats – leading to suffocation and also posing a significant risk of explosions

There will also not be enough spare parts to keep the colony maintained

‘The first crew fatality would occur approximately 68 days into the mission,’ the researchers write

The group behind this has raised a significant amount of funding, some of it from the people who want to go to Mars to die. While there is no concrete proof to point to, I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t some sort of a scam. What if the money simply disappears and they announce that they don’t have the funding to build the ships and the whole thing collapses? In some ways that might be a kindness for the colonists, I suppose, but it would still be a rather shabby trick.

The only thing more horrible might be if they actually manage a launch.

Mars Rover