Real World: Mars

A few days ago, one of the topics on the blog was trashy reality TV. By coincidence, on the day before that, it was announced that a company is planning the first manned mission to Mars…using the platform of reality TV.

Let’s just say this merits a blog entry of it’s own.

You can read all about it here, but I’ll discuss the key points below.

The crux of the mission is that it’s a one-way trip. Getting a spaceship into orbit from Earth is costly and logistically difficult as it is; adding a return leg from Mars is considerably more cost prohibitive. So the first four people who travel to Mars will most likely never return.

What’s more interesting is that they’ll be doing it on live TV. The company is going to sell sponsorships and ads to generate the $6 billion necessary to complete this mission. It’s a long-term project–they’ll start by selecting the participants (think American Idol), training them for years (Biggest Loser), sending them to space in very confined quarters as they travel for 2 years (Real World), and then having them land on Mars to live out the rest of their days (Survivor).

The scope of this project is monumental. The coolest thing to me about it, though, is that if it works out, sending people to Mars is no longer a “yeah, we’ll do that someday” type of dream. It will happen by 2023.

These four people will be the most famous people on the planet. They’ll be selected from all over the world, and I can’t imagine that a single person with a TV or internet connection wouldn’t tune in when they land on Mars. It would be the biggest media event of all time.

Imagine if they have a baby up there.

Can you imagine stepping out onto the red Martian soil, looking up, and seeing Earth? Can you imagine that feeling that you will never leave Mars, never step foot on Earth again? Close your eyes and imagine that.

I didn’t tell you to reopen your eyes, so I’m not sure how you’re reading this sentence. Maybe you’re having someone read it to you.

If you applied to be one of the first four people to step foot on Mars, to spend the next 10 years of your life training at least part-time, to have your entire life on camera, and to never return to Earth after you landed…would you accept? Why or why not?

14 thoughts on “Real World: Mars”

  1. I would have to say no. This reminds me of Carl Sagan’s novel, “Contact.” Mind you, and I hate to spoil it if you haven’t read it or seen the movie, Jodie Foster’s character isn’t in space forever. But, her love lead, played by Matthew McConaughey, offers what I feel is the reason I say no. My life is here. My family is here. My beliefs, religious and otherwise, keep me here. My dad is an amateur astronomer himself but he and I agree that there are certain mysteries that we would rather have unfold, or be discovered by others. Now, had the scenario been more like an actual emergency where I wouldn’t return because of some meteor then I would make the ultimate sacrifice. 🙂

  2. My biggest passion in life is writing fiction. I could still do this on Mars and on the two year journey there. In fact, I could pen something entitled Life On Mars with no irony in the title (well, perhaps a touch of irony).

    It’s really a matter of convincing my husband that this is a good idea…

    • Lorena–I was thinking along the same lines. So much time to write up there without distraction! Although realistically I think you’d be working nonstop to build and maintain the outpost.

      • “And the best thing, the very best thing of all, is there’s time now… there’s all the time I need and all the time I want. Time, time, time. There’s time enough at last.” The Twilight Zone, Time Enough at Last.

  3. Ohmygosh no, I would NEVER. I mean…what are they going to do up there? People can’t survive on Mars without serious help, right? So are they going to wear helmets and space suits all the time? Eat space food? Drink…what water? And what if, in spite of the helmets and space suits, they DO manage to have a baby? It’s a death sentence for the little guy or girl! What the crap is wrong with people?? I’m going to have to read that article. *fumes*

    • Anne and Trev–The article explains that the technology is available to make Mars sustainable. The only major risk is radiation.

      I’m surprised it’s making you so angry! Is it that it’s such a huge expense that could be better spent elsewhere? I think I’d have that feeling if it were government sponsored (the government is actually sending a rover to Mars right now for $2.5 billion). But like any TV show, it would only stay on track if people watched it.

  4. I’d have to say no. While Mars is conveniently close enough to land on, as Anne pointed out, it’s not built to sustain life without serious continued assistance from earth. It’s just not the right fit for humans. I’m sure people can build a self-sustaining environment in which people wouldn’t have to wear space suits all the time, but the one key element that seems to be lacking is a renewable water source (assuming that their environment could filter oxygen out of Mars’ atmosphere on a large scale).

  5. It sounds like Truman Show for Scientists. People who are against would probably voice a concern that it is too uncertain to abandon any human life. Though I can think of few better sacrifices for which a person could give their life than the wealth of knowledge that we could gain if this thing went off without a hitch.

  6. Jamey, this is awesome! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I am surprised by the overall negative reaction from your readers though. While I myself would have to seriously think about if I would be willing to go to Mars (probably not), the thought of people landing there and never returning is truly exciting. The TV show itself, to me, would be secondary behind the overall goal of the mission. Landing people on Mars, I mean, are you kidding me? This would be the most exciting and anticipated event since we landed men on the moon. And as you said, would certainly be the most watched event in world history most likely. Perhaps I am biased towards dreams of Mars based on my reading of the Mars Trilogy (Red, Green, and Blue) written by the science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson. It is in my top 5 trilogies of all time, and I would recommend to all our readers to at least read the first book (Red Mars). It parallels this story very nicely and is a great, well researched book.

    • Neil–That’s a great point that the sheer act of stepping foot on Mars might be worth it. Thanks for the book recommendation too! Maybe it’ll go from being science fiction to science in a few years.


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