Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Minerva Rañeses and Jaymee del Rosario to Get a Shot at Mars Trip

Two Filipinos, Minerva Rañeses and Jaymee del Rosario are in the running to join a reality show with a one-way trip to Mars as the prize.

Two Filipino women are in the running to join a reality competition with an enviable (or unenviable) prize: a one-way ticket to help establish a colony on Mars.

Minerva Rañeses from Pasig City, and US-based Jaymee Orillosa del Rosario, are among the 50 women and 50 men who made the cut in the third round of astronaut selection by the Netherlands-based Mars One project.

The Mars One project aims to get people on Mars by 2024, where they will establish a colony – essentially, a one-way ticket to Earth's neighbor.

In her profile on Mars One, Rañeses, 24, describes herself as a writer, and that she is an "intellectual wanderer" seeking "growth in knowledge and philosophy."

"I don’t decide based on monetary or materialistic returns, but on the experience I will garner," she said in her introduction. Philosophy, literature, and history are her top interests – "[generally], anything that can lead to comprehending mankind’s behavior and the many possible structures society can take form in the future."

Meanwhile, Orillosa, 27, is an entrepreneur distributing raw material metals and exotic alloys to aerospace, defense, and commercial industries, according to her Mars One profile.

In fact, she says one of their clients is Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX: "Our materials/product was part of the Dragon Capsule that was successfully launched in 2010."

She also is working towards earning a Bachelors degree in Business.

Two out of 202,586

A whopping 202,586 people from around the world applied for the project, which was whittled down to 600, then the current crop of 100 candidates. (READ: 5 Pinoys, one-way ticket to Mars)

The candidates come from all continents: 39 from the Americas, 31 from Europe, 16 from Asia, 7 from Africa, and 7 from Oceania.

The top 100 were chosen after they were interviewed by Norbert Kraft, the project's chief medical officer. "We were impressed with how many strong candidates participated in the interview round, which made it a very difficult selection," he was quoted as saying.

The third round selection is the easy part, Mars One said: the candidates will now be trained to compose teams "that can endure all the hardships of a permanent settlement on Mars."

"Being one of the best individual candidates does not automatically make you the greatest team player, so I look forward to seeing how the candidates progress and work together in the upcoming challenges," Kraft said.

The final cut will see only two dozen people abandoning Earth for a new start on a cold, dry, oxygen-less planet some 55 million kilometers (34 million miles or 6 months' travel) away. (READ: One-way trip to Mars? Sign me up, says Frenchwoman)

The high cost of the project, an estimated $6 billion (4.4 billion euros), precludes the option of a return trip.

The trial resettlement is meant to be mainly funded by a reality-TV show about the project.

The final 24 would be sent to the Red Planet in 6 separate launches starting in 10 years.

Many experts scoff at the project's feasibility, questioning whether the participants would survive the physical perils and demands on their sanity. On the other hand, its supporters include Dutch Nobel laureate Gerard 't Hooft, who won the 1999 prize for physics.

The world's space agencies have only managed to send unmanned robotic rovers to Mars so far, the latest being NASA's $2.5 billion Curiosity rover, which touched down in August 2012.

If it succeeds, Mars One would be the first private-sector initiative, manned or unmanned, to explore another planet.

But the biggest question, once everything's set, is: could they survive? A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, using Mars One data, said that they can – but only for 68 days.

Way to go!


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