Edinburgh science fest to recruit Mars explorers

This year's Edinburgh International Science Festival will be at the centre of a recruitment drive for an 'interplanetary migration' to Mars. Picture: AP
This year's Edinburgh International Science Festival will be at the centre of a recruitment drive for an 'interplanetary migration' to Mars. Picture: AP
Share this article
Have your say

ARE you bright, fit, outgoing and willing to relocate – to Mars? Then the Edinburgh International Science Festival is the place to go job-hunting this year.

• Man behind mission to migrate to Mars in 10 years’ time to present project plans at Edinburgh International Science Festival

• Other exhibitions at 25th edition of festival include eating insects and studies of forensic science

The man behind plans to establish a colony on the Red Planet is appearing at the festival as he launches a recruitment drive for would-be adventurers.

Bas Lansdorp, entrepreneur and co-founder of Dutch charitable organisation Mars One, will outline the 2023 mission, which is seeking anyone aged 18 or over who is “intelligent, in good mental and physical health, and willing to dedicate eight years to training and learning before making the journey to his or her new home on Mars”.

As the charity notes, in something of an understatement, a manned mission to Mars will be “expensive”. So to fund the endeavour, it plans to turn the mission into the biggest media spectacle ever seen, with interactive, televised broadcasts of every stage, from the astronaut selection process to training, arrival and life on the distant planet.

Interest has apparently been “overwhelming” since the project was unveiled earlier this month, with 500,000 people visiting the Mars One website to find out how to become one of just four “icons” who will leave Earth behind to move tens of millions of miles away.

Speaking ahead of his festival presentation, entitled One Way Ticket to Mars, Mr Lansdorp was keen to stress that the recruitment drive is not a hoax.

He said: “It’s absolutely a job. Applications will open during the first half of this year.

“What we will need most is not engineers or doctors but the kind of person that you would want to be stuck with on an uninhabited island.

“These four people will be in a tin can for seven months to get to Mars, where they will stay for the rest of their lives.”

Anyone concerned about the reference to tin cans can rest assured, however, as Mr Lansdorp is in talks with SpaceX, the firm which recently completed the first commercial flight to the International Space Station.

He was inspired to attempt his own mission after watching the Mars Rover landing in 1997, when he decided that he wanted to visit the planet himself.

Visitors to the science festival, which celebrates its 25th year, will be invited to undergo physical and psychological tests at special “LateLab” events to check their suitability for space travel.

Speaking at yesterday’s launch of the programme, Amanda Tyndall, deputy director of the festival, said: “We will be asking, would you take a one-way trip to Mars and in fact are you fit for orbit? It is a question a lot of people have been talking about.”

The festival runs at venues across the city from 23 March to 7 April. Other events include Eating Aliens, where diners will be invited to taste insects and invasive species which might be increasingly on the menu in future as food shortages grow.

There is also Patterns in Nature, an outdoor photography exhibition in St Andrews Square, featuring detailed images including individual snowflakes and the stripes of an angelfish.