How would you like to take a trip to Mars? That’s right, only to Mars. There would be no coming back.
You don’t have to make up your mind right now, because there are no missions planned or even on the horizon. But when the idea of a one-way ticket to Mars was first broached last year in a cosmology journal, the response was rather overwhelming: More than 1,000 people said they’d be eager to go.
It was not proposed as a suicide mission, although the chances of a long life on Mars probably aren’t great. Rather, it was pitched as what would potentially be the greatest scientific adventure and exploration of all time.
The idea was floated by two scientists, Paul Davies of Arizona State University and Dirk Schulze-Makuch of the University of Washington, in an article in the Journal of Cosmology. One of the journal’s editors, Ron Becker, said that as the hundreds of e-mails flowed in from prospective Mars explorers, the initial reaction of both researchers and journal staff was to dismiss them as not serious. But that changed as it became apparent that many of the correspondents were quite sincere.“Our initial goal was to find a way to develop a human mission to Mars that could actually take place, that wouldn’t cost so much that it would be impossible to pull off,” Davies said. “And the one-way trip, as we costed it out, would be about one-quarter the price of a there-and-back mission.”