A man from Dunlavin has made the shortlist for a one-way trip to Mars in 2024.
Dr Joseph Roche is one of three Irish people to have made the list, and one of 1,058 people overall. Applicants hope to be a part of the first human colony of the Red Planet, with private firm Mars One footing the estimated €6 billion bill.
The son of Pat and Collette, 28-year-old Dr Roche grew up on a small farm and spent many nights staring up at the stars dreaming of space exploration.
In 2007, he received a Bachelor of Arts in Physics and Astrophysics from Trinity College. He then worked at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre before joining Trinity’s Astrophysics Research Group. He completed his PhD in 2012 and is now Research Projects Coordinator for Science Gallery.
Speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland, Dr Roche said that he always dreamed of going into space. “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.”
However, Dr Roche said he accepts the technology does not even exist to bring people back, and that his life expectancy would be greatly reduced on the planet. But he said by living on Mars he feels he would be taking a leap forward for mankind, and it would be a dream come true.
He told the Irish Times: “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.”
Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdrop is behind the plan, which would see four-man crews leaving earth every two years.
Cash for the trip will be generated through crowd-funding while a reality TV show will also be created around the project, organisers have said. Costs will be further decreased as there will be be return journey to pay for.