OTSO No to Hell Yeah: Moving to Mars

There was an article in Grazia a couple of ..years ago. It was an interview with a woman who had signed up for, and been accepted by, the Mars One mission, which hopes to begin building a human settlement on the red planet in 2024.

A self-confessed space geek, I found this story fascinating and it popped up in my mind today when I was fantasising about all the places I would rather be that on a commuter train heading into the City of London.

A bit of background..

Before we get into the reasons for (and against) signing up and saying hell yeah Mars and goodbye husband, here’s a little background on the Mars One Mission.

Earth’s in a bad way, and the deterioration is speeding up.

We haven’t been treating the planet very well, so much so that our great grandchildren’s days are numbered. That said, our future then, must be in space.

“It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn’t have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. Let’s hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load.” – Steven Hawkin

Mars was a hot topic in 2015, excuse the pun. There were numerous “[insert number] ESSENTIAL REASONS WE MUST DO MARS” clickbait articles. Yes, humans need to make some serious changes to tackle climate change, after all we’ve already passed 4 of the 9 pillars that make earth habitable. But is moving to another planet really viable in the long term?

mars mission
“Damnit Bill how could you lose the wheels?” / “Shut it Karen when was the last time you harvested any earth worms?!” – Mars One Pioneers

So, we’ve been thinking about our options, stay here and face extinction, or jump ship to another planet, assuming this option would be open to us is of course foolish but you never know – Richard Branson seems like a pretty easy going type of guy.

Hell Yeah #1:Preserving Humanity

This is history in the making. To go on a mission that could save (a somewhat small portion) of humanity is up there with the most incredible things one can expect to accomplish in their life.

No #1: It takes 3 years to get there

Now, I can handle travel, a flight to Australia is no problem for me, and that’s around a 30 hour door-to-door trip. But three years? That is a long, long, long time. The mental preparation would be intense, you would hope that there would be plenty of “prep” work to do on the way, but if not, I can imagine that travelling to a new life for three sold years would be taxing to say they least.

Hell Yeah #2: Who doesn’t want to be an astronaut

Imagine seeing the sun rise and set on earth, experiencing weightlessness and flying among the stars. Amazing right? It’s one of the coolest jobs on earth, if you’re smart enough, strong enough and healthy enough to get there.

No#2: Leaving everyone you know and love behind

Humans miss each other on earth, we miss each other in the same city. We can even miss each other while we’re actually with each other, but that’s a conversation for another day. My point is, Leaving your family, friends, partner, pets and any other nearest and dearest’s forever is a crazy decision to make. If you miss your mum but you’re on Mars, you just have to suck it up.

Hell Yeah #3: PROGRESS

The Mars One website notes progress as one of the key reasons humans should make the move. Our species has a tendency to constantly push the boundaries, every few years there is another visionary who kicks a generation a little further forward in history. Think Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Nelson Mandela. The architects of change mean well (maybe not the silicon valley types..) and the reasons for this mission are

No#3: The human body might be destroyed.

Mars has 15 sunsets and sunrises each day. We have lived in our happy 24 hour set up for a long time and we’re built to suit that. The physical affects of a change this extreme could reek havoc on the rhythms of the heart. And that’s before you remember the lack of gravity decreases bone and muscle density to a debilitating if exposed for extended periods of time.

No#4: What if you don’t get along with your roommate?

I know this is a silly one. But think about it, imagine through the extensive training you’re getting along with people and thinking, hey, this might be even better than I thought.. Only to be paired up pre-flight with someone who in the kindest words, is not someone that you can happily converse with, let alone move planet with.. Nightmare.

No#5: Mars One has no money.

I had a little snoop into their financials, the Mars One project has accumulated over £7 million in debt..  Their website is confusing as well. When you think ‘Mars Mission!’ you think a high-tech, forward-thinking concept driven by the smartest people in the world. But their website isn’t far from a rookie blog with a Big Cartel attached. The merch selling out of the digital ‘webshop’ is also a bit weird.

In the press..

Google “should we go to Mars” and you’ll find a stream of shocking headlines, a few that caught my attention was a hilarious exert from Fox News which claimed that the move to Mars would “boost morale” on earth… I beg to differ. The world is crumbling, and I don’t think that watching the brainy and wealthy elite fly off to another planet is going to make anyone left behind feel any better.

The undertone of politics throughout these stories is also unsettling. Many publications mention the ideologies of demonstrating leadership, power and economic chest-beating. With U.S. journalists and some unsavoury publications hailing a Mars mission as showing that America is still the top dog. Even still, as the environment is at breaking point, sea levels are rising and 300,000 will die from pollution per year by 2030 from pollution in the U.S. (40,000 in the UK), this is still being backed by competition and greed.

mars mission
Image via Dave Reneke. Why not create a new flag?

It’s a No from me. That’s not to say it’s not a good idea or that it won’t happen. We think, that human will go to Mars one day in the not-so-distant future, but what happens after that is totally uncertain. The vast possibilities of what could go wrong make it a hugely risky venture, and although we have a fair knowledge of the planet itself, we have no idea of what the atmospheric changes will do to the human body long term, nor do we know the mental implications of a move of this magnitude. Watch this space.

Liv @ OTSO




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