400 People Volunteer For Mars

An edition of the Journal of Cosmology has prompted more than 400 people to volunteer for a trip to Mars as colonists, according to an article in Fox News.

"I've had a deep desire to explore the universe ever since I was a child and understood what a rocket was," Peter Greaves told FoxNews.com. Greaves is the father of three, and a jack-of-all-trades who started his own motorcycle dispatch company and fixes computers and engines on the side.

It would take a special breed to handle the difficulties of a trip to Mars with currently available technology; a typical minimum cost trajectory would take about 260 days. And then, you'd be stuck there.

"It's going to be a very long period of isolation and confinement," said Albert Harrison, who has studied astronaut psychology since the 1970s as a professor of psychology at UC Davis. He also warned that life on Mars wouldn't be as romantic as it sounded.

"After the excitement of blast-off, and after the initial landing on Mars, it will be very difficult to avoid depression. After all, one is breaking one’s connections with family, friends, and all things familiar," he told FoxNews.com.

"Each day will be pretty much like the rest. The environment, once the novelty wears off, is likely to be deadly boring. Despite being well prepared and fully equipped there are certain to be unanticipated problems that cannot be remedied. One by one the crew will get old, sick, and die-off."

Robert Heinlein's 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land also featured a long selection process by which tens of thousands of volunteers were winnowed to produce a list of just eight astronauts for a trip to Mars.

The University of Edinburgh, prime contractor, sub-contracted crew selection to the Institute for Social Studies. After discarding the chaff of volunteers useless through age, health, mentality, training, or temperament, the Institute still had over nine thousand candidates to work from, each sound in mind and body and having at least one of the necessary special skills.

From the Journal of Cosmology via Fox; thanks to Adi for submitting the tip on this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/12/2011)

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