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Friday, 28 February 2014

Mars One update

As I follow this project with interest, I find it curious that although the Mars one expedition only requires 4 people and have accepted thousands of applicants from very normal backgrounds with no specific requirements but now asks for the following ready for their preparation expedition being based in the Canadian Arctic:

Firstly they ask for volunteers to compile a team of six members when the original expedition only accounts for a 4 man team.  Secondly the original expedition asks for  no special requirements. No science skills, no engineering skills and anyone could apply.  On this expedition  however "Applicants will need to pass a physical exam and must be cleared by their personal physician to participate. Applicants must be non-smokers ... Dedication to the cause of human Mars exploration is an absolute must, as conditions are likely to be very difficult and the job will be very field support person will also participate in the expedition in and out of simulation role. This person should have excellent field mechanic and wilderness skills." cited from

This new expedition seems to focus on how the team will work together however they are already overlooking the differences in the terrain and psychological aspects of these two very different teams on two very different missions.

Firstly the team being brought together for the Canadian Arctic expedition have been through university to gain the qualifications on geology, engineering, and the various other skills they are looking for.  Already, this gives this team a psychological advantage as their cognitive abilities are able to deal with academic pressures with more efficiency meaning they will be able to deal with pressure with more ease.  Secondly, this team will be in contact with a remote team whenever they need support which means that psychologically they are not alone with only three other companions to support them.  

When you look at the circumstances for the Mars one team, they have access to a remote team however it is highly unlikely that communication will be instantaneous due to the distance between Earth and Mars.  This leaves the team with no instant support, no cognitive ability to deal with complex engineering issues or scientific issues and only each other for support on a constant basis. 

My worry here is that the two teams are not really testing psychological impact or group work; although the terrain is apparently very similar to the terrain in Mars, the situation each team is being placed in is far from similar.  To measure anything in the preparation expedition will not show any true significant correlations between these variables and leave the project totally unprepared for the launch of Mars One.