independent

Saturday 20 September 2014

Dunlavin man eyes Mars one day, to work, rest and play

Myles Buchanan

Published 15/01/2014 | 05:44

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A Dunlavin astrophysicist is one of three Irish people who have made it to the last 1,058 applicants for a place on a trip to Mars in 2024.

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There's just one catch. It's a one-way journey.

Dr. Joseph Roche is one of over 200,000 people who applied to take part in the privately funded Mars One project.

The son of Pat and Collette Roche of Dunlavin, Joseph works at the Science Gallery in Dublin and says he has always had ambitions to go into space.

He says, 'No new inventions are required for this to happen. It's largely the same technology that has been keeping humans alive for the past 11 years on the International Space Station that will keep our astronauts alive on Mars.'

The man behind the project is Dutch national Bas Lansdorp. He aims to land a colony of four astronauts on the surface of Mars by 2025. The successful applicants will receive eight years of training. Robotic missions will also lay the infrastructure on Mars, which is over 225 million kilometres away from earth.

Subsequent rovers will deliver living quarters and life-support units, while back on Earth the first four astronauts will prepare for lift-off in 2025. The project's ultimate goal is to establish a colony on the Red Planet.

Joseph received a Bachelor of Arts in Physics and Astrophysics from Trinity College in 2007.

During his PhD he used the Hubble Space Telescope to observe dying stars.

He was also a research assistant at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, US, and was the project manager for Space Expo in Dublin. He now acts as Research Projects Coordinator for Science Gallery.

He acknowledges that the technology doesn't exist to bring people back from Mars and accepts his life expectancy will be reduced on the planet.

'People assume that just because I want to go that I must not be happy here, but that couldn't be further from the truth.

'I've been very fortunate. I grew up in a great family and love my work. I think putting someone on Mars who has a full appreciation of life on Earth is key to the mission's success.'

He adds, 'It's difficult to imagine what it would feel like to leave family and friends behind. You would be looking at a reduced life expectancy but for me each and every day you spend on the planet you will be taking a leap forward for scientific endeavour and for me, I would have to go.'

The Mars One Project aims to raise €6 billion through crowd funding and Reality TV series. Mars One will be a 24-hour reality TV show, with the public voting on which applicants will get to travel.

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