I've been doing quite a bit of regular radio with the ABC recently (ABC Riverina and ABC Central West), so I thought it would be a good idea to put up a post each month on what we've spoken about.
The main topic this month was the Mars One project, which plans to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars. This is an incredibly optimistic project, made even more interesting by the fact that it is going to be funded by a reality TV show, which will track the training and lives of the astronauts, and presumably follow them into space. A number of Australians are still in the running to be part of the final four who make it.
There are seemingly innumerable ethical issues with this project, notwithstanding the fact that at $6 Billion, it seems unbelievably cheaper than NASA estimates (~$100 Billion) for similar projects. Check out the company's FAQs - they have addressed a number of questions that immediately come to mind (food, air, fuel etc). The one outstanding question for me is - what if it goes wrong? Does the company abandon the astronauts on Mars? Does NASA have an obligation to go back to get them? What if everyone stops watching the reality TV show? I watched (well, glanced at) Big Brother One but can't tell you a lot about the following umpteen seasons...
One thing we do know is that long distance space travel is no place for extroverts. Unsurprisingly, a NASA-funded study has found that extroverts will probably drive their space companions bananas if kept in confirmed quarters for too long.