Thousands of people applied, but the final list of serious contenders who could be sent on a one-way trip to Mars to try and colonise the red planet has been whittled down to just 100, and amongst their numbers is an Irishman.
Joseph Roche is an astrophysicist who is based in Dublin, at Trinity College, and may well be one of the first people to travel to Mars, albeit on a one-way mission. Roche applied to the Mars One program, a project with the express goal of sending a manned mission to Mars by the year 2024, and backed by Dutch billionaire Bas Lansdorp.
The huge interest in the mission meant that they were flooded with entries, over 200,000 in total, but that gargantuan list has been whittled down to just 100 people, with Roche among them. He certainly has the credentials to be sent to the Red Planet, having worked at NASA, used the Hubble Space Telescope and served as Education and Learning Manager for Science Gallery Dublin. Roche's passion and suitability for the role have gotten him this far, and for the moment, the significance of having to leave this planet forever (and all that entails) does not seem to be lost on him.
It is estimated that it will cost an estimated $6 billion to send the first group of astronauts to Mars, who will be joined by new crews every two years afterwards, should their endeavour prove successful. Part of that cost will be funded by a reality TV show, where the public choose the explorers who will go where no man has gone before. Hopefully, that works out better than Celebrity Big Brother.