Would you volunteer for a one-way mission to Mars?

NASA officials have confirmed that studies are being conducted to assess whether astronauts can be sent on a one-way mission to the Red Planet. So far, the mission amounts to US$1.1 million in seed capital that NASA’s Ames Research Centre and the Pentagon’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency hope to turn into the $11 billion the mission could cost.

Ames Director Simon Worden confirmed the studies at the Long Now Foundation’s “Long Conversation” conference in San Francisco last weekend…

Worden’s admission offered few details beyond a possible 2030 launch date, but its coincidence with a new paper published in the Journal of Cosmology suggests how such a mission might look.

In their paper “To Boldly Go: A One-Way Human Mission to Mars,” Washington State University geobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch and Arizona State University cosmologist Paul Davies suggest a one-way trip sidesteps the potentially prohibitive costs involved.

“Eliminating the need for returning early colonists would cut the costs several fold and at the same time ensure a continuous commitment to the exploration of Mars and space in general,” they write…

Davies and Schulze-Makuch argue that a series of successful missions to Mars could eventually lead to long-term colonization of Earth’s second-closest planetary neighbour…

In the meantime, those with a spirit for adventure can start dreaming of what to pack.

Attwood says ideal candidates would be “willing to take a chance to see what’s on the other side.”

I needn’t comment on those who can’t conceive of such an idea. Those willing to risk all on exploration have always been uncommon – though not lacking in the history of our species.

I imagine that many of those who set forth on each of the journeys that brought our species from Africa northwards were equally capable of climbing aboard a rocket without a return ticket guarantee.

UCSC Joins NASA In Tech-Education Partnership

Daylife/Reuters Pictures

Two local colleges have joined forces with NASA in an effort to create a sustainable community that will allow for education and research at Moffett Field.

The University of California-Santa Cruz and the Foothill-De Anza Community College announced that they have joined NASA Ames Research Center to create an educational opportunity on 75 acres of land in the NASA Research Park.

The goal of the partnership to create an environmentally sustainable community that will prepare the workforce of the future while also allowing for technological research, UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal said…

Carnegie Mellon University, Santa Clara University and San Jose State University may also eventually join in the partnership.

Yeah, I know it’s just a press release pumping up the joint venture; but, it sounds like enough fun that I’d recommend it to students. Get all of this crowd together with the NASA Ames folks – and something truly useful might come of it.

Toss in Carnegie-Mellon and I might consider coming out of retirement to sell whatever they invent. 🙂