herald

Friday 18 August 2017

Scientist's fear over 'cash for points' on Mars One mission

Joseph Roche
Joseph Roche

a IRISHMAN selected as one of a few hopefuls for the Mars One venture, has now hit out at the mission which he claims could "fall on its face".

Dr Joseph Roche, a lecturer in Trinity College Dublin says that the programme relies on contributions in order to progress as a possible candidate for the mission.

Mars One is a non-profit organisation based in the Netherlands that hopes to land four astronauts on the surface of the planet by the year 2025 to establish a new colony.

Dr Roche, from Kildare, decided to apply to become one of the few people who will go on mission to Mars.

He became a finalist, only to discover that the selection process involved contributing vast amounts of money in exchange for 'points'.

Speaking to Medium.com, Dr Roche said that the process to be selected for the first ever manned voyage to the red planet involves a points system, and that the only way to get points was to purchase merchandise or donate money to Mars One.

"When you join the 'Mars One Community', which happens automatically if you applied as a candidate, they start giving you points," he said.

"You get points for getting through each round of the selection process and then the only way to get more points is to buy merchandise from Mars One or to donate money to them."

MERCHANDISE

Mr Roche added: "Community members' can redeem points by purchasing merchandise like T-shirts, hoodies, and posters, as well as through gifts and donations."

In February, those who made it to the next stage of selection received a list of "tips and tricks" for dealing with press requests, which included the line: "If you are offered payment for an interview then feel free to accept it. We do kindly ask for you to donate 75pc of your profit to Mars One."

Mr Roche said that the process made him worried that the mission will be a failure.

"My nightmare about it is that people continue to support it and give it money and attention, and it then gets to the point where it inevitably falls on its face," he said.

"If it does and people lose faith in NASA and possibly even in scientists, then that's the polar opposite of what I'm about."

He also said that he has not yet met anyone from it in person and that the only interviews conducted were done over Skype.

A spokesperson for the Mars One project was not immediately available for comment, when contacted by the Herald.

hnews@herald.ie

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