Mars One: Shortlisted candidates to undergo new phase of selection process

On Monday, Mars One project organizers said that the shortlisted 100 candidates to establish a human colony on the Red Planet will undergo tests as part of a latest phase of the selection process.

Initially, nearly 200,000 hopefuls from 140 nations signed up for the Mars One project, which will be partly funded by a television reality show relating to the endeavor.

The hopefuls were shortlisted to 100 people. Now, there are going to be the five-day third phase of tests, after which, they will be further trimmed to 40, out of whom, 24 will ultimately be selected for the one-way trips to Mars. The Mars journey has been scheduled to begin a decade later.

Mars One said that the new tests, 90% of which are the ones used by the US space agency, NASA, will be performed in teams.

In a statement, the Dutch-based non-profit organization, said that during the time period of five days, candidates will deal with different types of challenges.

The organization added, “It will be first time candidates will meet in person and demonstrate capabilities as team. In this round candidates will play active role in decision making/group formation. Mars One has asked candidates to group themselves into teams with people they believe they can work with”.

They won’t be heading back to Earth, thus the ones who get selected should be capable of surviving in small groups, looking out for water, producing oxygen and growing their own food.

Currently, the US space agency is working on three Mars missions along with the European Space Agency. It is looking forward to send another rover to the Red Planet in 2020. But NASA isn’t projecting a manned mission to Mars before the 2030s.

“The 100 candidates on the shortlist to establish a human colony on the planet Mars are to undergo tests as part of a new phase of the selection process, the project organisers said Monday. Around 200,000 hopefuls from 140 countries initially signed up for the Mars One project, which is to be partly funded by a television reality show about the endeavour,” according to a news report published by Phys.

This has been whittled down to 100 people. After the five-day third phase of tests, it will be trimmed further to 40, of whom 24 will eventually be chosen for the one-way trips to the red planet, scheduled to start in 2026. Mars One said the latest tests, 90 percent of which are those used by NASA, will done in teams.

As they will not be returning to Earth, those selected must be capabale of living in small groups, finding water, producing oxygen and growing their own food. NASA is currently working on three Mars missions with the European Space Agency and plans to send another rover to Mars in 2020.

According to a story published on the topic by The Register, “The Mars One project – which plans to make a reality TV show out of an attempt to settle on the Red Planet – will now put 100 space colonist hopefuls through selection tests.”

In 2012, the Netherlands-based non-profit group announced it would send cargo ships to Mars in 2016, with the goal of setting up a permanent colony there some years later. The project estimated that it would take about $6bn to achieve, and would be partially funded by selling the rights to the first interplanetary reality show – with Big Brother biz Endemol touted as sponsors. (It’s not clear if Endemol is still on board with the madcap scheme.)

After a lengthy and contentious publicity campaign, 100 potential astronauts were selected from applications sent in by the public. At a press conference held on Monday, the group outlined how those potential cosmic settlers will be shortly whittled down to a smaller selection.

“The challenges are designed to determine the candidate’s key competencies. Additionally, individual debriefing sessions after each group challenge will provide us with insights into morale, motivation, norm settings, coping strategies and decision making,” said Mars One’s chief medical officer Dr Norbert Kraft.

According to the current timeline, Mars One plans to send a series of unmanned cargo capsules to the Red Planet using SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rockets – the prototype of which won’t fly until November at the soonest – in 2023. The cargo pods will be landed in an as-yet unnamed location that will be picked using an orbiting satellite and Martian rover already on the dust world.

Then the first four colonists are fired off in 2026 and the plan is to send further teams out with fresh supplies every two years. Live-streaming cameras will be dotted around the Martian colony to show viewers at home how things are working out.

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