Meet the British students hoping to score a one-way ticket to Mars

Whittled down from 200,000 applicants, meet three of the intrepid Brits hoping to take that giant leap for mankind

Many students jet off to exotic locations on their gap years or during the holidays, but these students are embarking on a journey that is truly out of this world, having been shortlisted for the first manned flight to Mars – without a return ticket.

Mars One, a project set up in 2011 by two Dutchmen with the aim of establishing permanent human life on Mars by 2025, saw over 200,000 people from around the world apply to be part of the first mission.

They drew up a shortlist of 1,058 people, which will be whittled down to just 24 aspiring Martian explorers.

Many were students shortlisted for their skills in their field of study. Here some UK students spoke to the Independent about their hopes of colonising the Red Planet.

Danielle Potter, 29, is a Phd student at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute

Ms Potter’s biggest worry is about leaving friends and family behind when she leaves Earth.

Although she is excited about being part of “the biggest thing in history”, she has a lot of scientific questions for the Mars One team.

“If you survive the journey and you survive the impact, what about radiation positioning?” she said. “I know the effects of radiation and radiation poisoning and I don’t particularly want to die that way. Say the crops fail, what are they going to put in place for me to be able to survive?”

She thinks the conditions on Mars are going to be “horrible.”

“To make it worse, I’ve travelled the world and I know how beautiful this planet is and what it’s got to offer.”

But having grown up in Manchester, she said “I know what it’s like to grow up in a hostile environment.”

Ryan MacDonald, 20, third-year physics student at University College in Oxford

 “On Earth you’re one of 7 billion people,” said Mr MacDonald. “It’s very difficult to do something really big and important with your life that’s going to make a difference.

“[Going to Mars is] all about just trying to make the most of life and do whatever is the maximum amount of good you can do.”

He said people are generally supportive of his trip, though his 18-year-old sister doesn’t want him to go.

“As for never seeing your family and friends again - you’ll be in closer contact with your friends and family than the people who went to [colonial] Australia and had to wait six months to hear from their families,” he said.

Mr MacDonald expects to acquire “superhuman strength” for a few days on Mars while his muscles adapt to the lack of gravity.

He also thinks Mars would be a great place to grow old.

“Due to the lower gravity there’d be less health risks like bone damage, so in old age it would actually be a nice place to retire to,” he said.

Hannah Earnshaw, 22, is studying a Phd in astronomy at Durham University

Being an astronaut was 22-year-old was Ms Earnshaw’s childhood dream.  

“This is the first mission that actually seems like it’s technically feasible in the present and the one that’s actually going to happen,” she said. “I wanted to really get behind it.”

It took her several months to decide whether to apply for the trip.

“One of the factors that I did spend a lot of time mulling over was the fact that I’d be leaving everyone behind.

“I’m a fairly independent person and I do a lot of communication over the Internet and I think that will be a fairly key thing in every-day life [on Mars].”

She is worried about the “inherent dangers” of space travel, but thinks the trip could actually be quite soothing for the soul. 

“In a way [though] I’m prepared for it to be very simple,” she said. “I wouldn’t say monotonous necessarily, but you kind of hear the words ‘adventure’ and ‘excitement’ bandied around. I think day to day life will be quite steady, which is good really because I think that would certainly help in terms of emotional stability."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Guru Careers: Junior Web Developer

£18 - 22k (DOE) + Benefits & Stock Options: Guru Careers: Junior Developer / J...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Structural Engineer

£17000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Structural Engineer ...

Guru Careers: Graduate Sales Executive

£18 - 24k OTE + Uncapped Commission: Guru Careers: A Graduate Sales Executive ...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor