Friday 15 November 2019

Mars One mission is doomed, says Irish finalist

Astrophysicist Joseph Roche with President Michael D Higgins.
Astrophysicist Joseph Roche with President Michael D Higgins.
Mars One

Brian Byrne

An unprecedented mission to send the first humans to live on Mars could be doomed to fail, an Irish finalist has claimed.

Astrophysicist at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) Joseph Roche is concerned the project will "fall flat on its face" before its 2024 launch, due to a lack of funding.

Dr Roche, who is among the final 100 candidates for the Mars One project, claimed the Dutch non-profit project has solicited donations from finalists and also criticised the screening process.

"I have not met anyone from Mars One in person," he said on the selection process.

Dr Roche said candidates were listed on a leader board on the project's website, according to the number of points they have accrued.

"You get points for getting through each round of the selection process . . . and then the only way to get more points is to buy merchandise from Mars One or to donate money to them," Mr Roche said.

He said those at the top were the most likely to gain media attention, adding that Mars One recommended that 75pc of any money earned from interviews be donated to the cause.

A Mars One spokesperson said the leader board was "based on what the supporter can earn", but claimed "this number of points is unrelated to our selection process" according to an article website Medium.com.

The lecturer, who previously said his decision to apply for the one-way mission was a "no-brainer", also claimed the screening process was insufficient.

"All the info they have collected on me is a crap video I made, an application form that I filled out with mostly one-word answers . . . and then a 10-minute Skype interview.

"That is just not enough info to make a judgment on someone about anything."

Dr Roche said his "nightmare scenario" is that the project will fail and "do damage to the public perception of science".

"My nightmare about it is that people continue to support it and give it money and attention, and it then gets to the point where it inevitably falls on its face."

According to Mars One, the 100 finalists who made it to the third round last month will now participate in "group challenges" to judge their suitability for the mission, which organ-isers estimated could cost €3.7bn.

A Mars One spokesperson dismissed the criticisms raised by Dr Roche.

Irish Independent

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