Saying that they originally planned on being extremely selective about who gets to make the permanent move to Mars in 2025, Mars One organizers admit that they are now simply looking for people who won’t go berserk.
Saskia Figueroa, who leads the selection committee, says that while it would be great to find young, highly competent scientists in peak physical shape, and who possess an inborn sense of adventure and determination, organizers are just interested in recruiting individuals who won’t murder the other crew members during the seven months it takes to get to the planet, nor during the subsequent 50 years they will spend on Mars living in cramped quarters with no natural air, and with little to do apart from counting rocks and developing crippling jealousies.
“If you think about it, having a PhD in astronomy or being able to fix radio equipment won’t matter, not for the epic ordeal we’re asking people to put themselves through,” Figueroa said. “We’re just want people who won’t end up eating each other.”
So far, Figueroa and her team have narrowed the applicant pool from 200,000 to just 100, based on personal statements in which the applicants stated that they are unlikely to chop up and devour fellow humans — behavior that Mars One founder Bas Lansdorp worries could scare away sponsors, vital for a project with costs that could run into the hundreds of billions of dollars.
But is it really hard to find suitable candidates who will remain coolheaded and uncombative for the next few decades?
“You’d be amazed how many people are capable of losing their grip on reality — for no good reason other than they’re marooned for the rest of their lives in a poisonous desert 140 million miles from their friends and family,” Figueroa said. “But the 100 candidates we’re eyeing have minds like solid fucking granite, and I can guarantee you none of them would ever pull a Jack Torrance and start running around the outpost with a hatchet, chasing fellow inhabitants and shouting mumbo jumbo about ghosts.”
In the last phase of the selection process, finalists will complete a lengthy questionnaire giving further insight into their psyches, and it will also offer a clear indication if they are the type of person to go full-blown bonkers on Mars, where mental health resources are scarce. After the final 24 candidates are chosen and commit to the project, Mars One organizers will send them to live alone for ten years in an Antarctic research station — just to see what happens before the organizers start “blowing the real money,” said Figueroa.