If I Die on Mars: Meet the Volunteers for the One-Way Mission to Mars in 2024
In 2024, Dutch organization Mars One plans to send the first humans to the Red Planet. The journey is so long, and the environment so treacherous, that none of the volunteers are expected to return. 200,000 people sent in applications to live and die on Mars, a pool that has now been whittled down to 660 finalists. In this touching new video from The Guardian, three of the finalists discuss their thoughts on love, sex, and the meaning of life:
The video is so fascinating because it really seems to get into the psychology of the kind of person who would want to go on a "suicide mission" (although it's obviously not that simple). Ryan and Dina both compare their desire to go to Mars with others' desire to have a family. For Ryan, "the most important thing to do in life is to leave a legacy. A lot of people would do that by say, having a child, having a family. For me, this would be my legacy. To try to find life on Mars, to inspire a new generation, to lead to the beginnings of the first civilization on another planet."
Similarly, when asked if she thinks anyone who volunteers to go on a one-way mission to Mars would have to be "crazy" (which is obviously a normative question to begin with), Dina gives a very thoughtful answer: "Define crazy. Crazy is the unfamiliar, crazy is the different person. For me, I think my older sister is crazy for having her dream be to have kids and have a husband and grow up and die."
The mission discourages any intimacy on Mars at first, as a result of the physical risks of pregnancy, although they will void that rule if the colony is ever established enough to start worrying about longevity. Ryan and Dina both disavow a need for love or sex, particularly Ryan, who has never had the desire to have sex and only masturbates in order to prevent prostate cancer. However, the third volunteer in the video, Jeremias, does express a worry that he will find love in the next ten years, calling it a "huge problem" and "something you can't control."
According to a recent MIT study that simulated the Mars One mission, the first settler will die within 68 days, and the rest will follow soon after. The General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the United Arab Emirates recently issued a general ban for Muslims to join the mission, as it is so dangerous, it is tantamount to suicide. But Jeremias's family insists that, although it feels like the person has effectively committed suicide to the people he or she left behind, it is actually borne out of his desire to find a better world.