Note: In 2012, I made a not-very-passionate-and-mostly-out-of-curiosity application for the Mars One project, a privately funded organization with the goal of one-way trips to colonize Mars. See Wikipedia for more about the project, which dissolved in 2019, and had even “been referred to as a scam in the media.”
Upon reviewing this ‘cover letter’, there were certain things I liked about the writing, particularly the “I love Earth. . . .” paragraph, so I decided to paste it as a quick blog post. At least it got me thinking and writing!
Name: John Fial
Why would you like to go to Mars?
[This is really a three-part question, so even though your purpose here is likely press-oriented – as opposed to a formal application – I’ll respond in three parts.]
- “Why would you like to go to Mars?”
The more interesting part of the question is always the “Why?,” and throughout history, the responses have always been similar: Why not? Curiosity. Exploration. A challenge and opportunity for growth. A chance to learn. Surely you have hundreds of passionate responses that detail these reasons using far better prose than mine.
I love Earth. Nothing has made me more consciously appreciate how extraordinary and impressive our planet is more than contemplating leaving her these past few months. So perhaps when some of us leave Earth, the rest of our species might live with a renowned appreciation for her, and in doing so, take better care of our magnificent home.
- “Why would you like to go to Mars?”
Without discussing my past in more detail, the great passion of my life has been in learning, and I suspect this will continue until my death. I have settled this year on a dream to know more in detail about biology, but learning in general is what excites me. I am blessed with the passion of curiosity, and I can think of no better way to continue my path in life than through your opportunity of the extensive training program, journey to, and life on a new home planet.
- “Would you like to go to Mars?” The most important question inherent within your original is assumed to be affirmative, but to be honest, I must respond to it.
Humans have always been leaving their homes – that much is common to all life on Earth – but no one has ever left the planet permanently. All astronauts (and service members) understand the risk of death and danger – but that darkness is warded off by the hope of a safe return home, wherever that place may be. This journey has no such hope. Because of this, there is no guarantee I can give you that I will follow through with this project to the end. I must express my balance of both confidence and doubt that I would indeed like to go.
All I can offer are my thoughts on whether I would truly like to go. In contemplating the big decisions in life, I ask myself several questions. After an affirmative answer to the question, “Will I care about this decision in the future?” I ask:
- Which path is more challenging – and will lead to more growth?
- Will I regret not taking one of them?
It may seem like going to Mars may be the more challenging path, but this first question is actually less easy to answer than that. The Mars path would be challenging, but it would also eliminate many Earth-bound life decisions that we all must face (where to live, housing and possessions, what to do for income, etc.). The Earth path would include these decisions, and the additional challenge of that burning afterthought, “What if I had gone?” My first question fails me.
Thus, I face my second question: at first glance, I might think that in staying on Earth, I would always regret not going to Mars. Yet in leaving Earth, I might regret that choice, too. No doubt there would be emotional moments of longing for children or relationships, for climbing the alps or swimming in the ocean. And I have even deeper aims: I want to directly change the world, and not only by changing myself. I want to contribute to our growth as a species, and perhaps accelerate that growth. I might do some of this from Mars, but from which planet could I make the greatest change in our species? So my second question too fails me.
This is a decade-long training program in preparation for permanent relocation to a new planet, so I imagine any human being would have his doubts. Some will always say, “go with your gut,” and use intuition. I would ask what their intuition is on this question. Mine is silent. What precedent is there for leaving one’s planet forever? I would very much like to meet any member of a species for which this question is a non-issue.