Five Britons have got onto a shortlist for a trip to Mars — from which they will probably never return.
They are part of a 100 person shortlist for the Mars One mission — a private trip by volunteers to Mars, which will be funded by a reality TV show — which has been whittled down from a list of 202,586 original applicants. The next round will see the contestants go through a training programme, with 40 people being chosen to eventually head to Mars.
The five Britons chosen include Maggie Lieu, a Birmingham PhD student who says that she would like to be the first person to have a baby on Mars. The other British people are Hannah Earnshaw, a 23-year-old Durham University PhD student; Ryan MacDonald, who is 21 and an Oxford University student; Alison Rigby, a 35-year-old science lab technician and Clare Weedon, a 27-year-old systems integration manager at Virgin Media.
While Lieu has said that she is worried about what her family will think if she is chosen to head off on the mission, other Britons have spoken of their families’ support.
Hannah Earnshaw told Sky News that: "My family is pretty thrilled. They're really happy for me.
"Obviously it's going to be challenging, leaving Earth and not coming back.
Where to explore in the solar system
Where to explore in the solar system
1/10 Mars - Olympus Mons
Olympus Mons is the largest volcano in the Solar System. At 22km high Olympus Mons is nearly three times as high as Mt Everest
2/10 Mars - Mount Sharp
Mount Sharp is the current focus point of the Mars Science Laboratory’s Curiosity rover. Sitting at the forefront of Martian research this location will hopefully unlock the secrets of Mars’s past.
3/10 Ida and Dactyl
Nestled deep within the asteroid belt is the asteroid 243 Ida. During a fly by of the Galileo space probe it was discovered that Ida had a companion. Orbiting around Ida was a tiny moon that was named Dactyl.
4/10 Jupiter - The Red Spot
Getting tired of leisurely cruises through the Caribbean? Why not float a dirigible through one of the oldest known storms in the Solar System. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is large enough to contain three Earths and has been present for over 300 years.
5/10 Moon - Sea of Tranquility
As the landing site of the first ever humans to set foot on the Moon who wouldn’t want to walk in the footsteps on Neil Armstrong on the Sea of Tranquility?
6/10 Europa - Underwater seas
Europa’s underwater seas are one of the strongest candidates for potential life outside Earth. Scientists are waiting the day we can probe their icy depths.
7/10 Titan - Methane Lakes
Saturn’s Moon Titan is home to a nice thick atmosphere. Similar to the Earth it supports a full weather cycle. Unlike the Earth, rather than using water, Titan’s cycle is based on methane, often found in gas cookers here on Earth.
8/10 Mimas, the Death Moon
What better location for a holiday snap. The large Herschel crater on Mimas gives this moon an appearance of a certain dark lords ultimate weapon. When viewed from the right angle it appears that the Death Star is in orbit around Saturn.
The thick clouds of Venus make it an extremely mysterious place. It also has some of the most extreme weather we can find. Runaway greenhouse gases have shrouded the planet in a thick layer of cloud, heating it to nearly 600°C. It is also home to sulphuric acid rain and crushing atmospheric pressure. Make sure you pack a sturdy umbrella!
10/10 Oceans of Earth
One of the most unexplored places in the Solar System is our own oceans. 70% of the Earth is covered in ocean and as of yet we have only explored around 10% of them. With so much water to explore who knows what we may find lurking in the depths.
"I've had support from my friends and family and we can still communicate via the internet."
On her profile on the Mars One page, Alison Rigby says that her family have been supportive but worried.
“I can understand their concerns; as time passes I realise more and more how deeply they feel for me and I for them,” she writes. “However as a potential representative of humanity on Mars I feel I have a responsibility to far more people.”
Most of the people on the shortlist come from the US. The Britons are part of 31 hopefuls from Europe, 16 from Asia, seven from Africa and seven from Australia.
But fears have been raised that none of the aspirant Martians will actually be able to get to the planet — and that the whole process is more of a publicity stunt for the TV show that is being said to fund it than a genuine attempt to get humans to Mars.
Big Brother producer Endemol will follow the hopeful astronauts as they are trained for the mission, it confirmed in a statement.
Commander Chris Hadfield, the astronaut who became famous during his time on the International Space Station, has said that the project may be overly optimistic and become a disappointment.
"I fear it's going to be a little disillusioning for people because it's presented as if it's going to happen and so all those people are excited," he told American magazine Matter.
But the Dutch entrepeneur behind the project, Bars Lansdorp, has denied claims that the mission is anything but genuine.
"If you look at the team involved in Mars One, none of us would do this as a hoax," Lansdorp told the BBC in 2012, when the mission was just getting off the ground.Reuse content