Mars One is the ambitious, privately-funded plan to develop a colony on the Red Planet by 2025. But a new study led by a researcher at MIT found the current roadmap could be a deadly one.
Sydney Do, a PhD candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), released a feasibility study that found the first humans on Mars would suffocate within 68 days of landing.
At the International Astronomical Union conference in Toronto, Do and his team presented their results: excess oxygen from crops produced in the artificial habitat would require ventilation and eventually cause asphyxiation.
According to CBC News, Do’s team ran a 26-month simulation to monitor conditions on the planned Mars One habitat; Twenty-six months is the time it would take backup spaceships to arrive from Earth according to the current Mars One plan.
Do told CBC News that a machine capable of solving the oxygen dilemma would be “so large that we couldn’t land it in one of the landers.” He said he actually contacted Mars One with his research, but has not heard back.
The Mars One team, which formed in 2011, is now two steps into its projected roadmap. According to the project’s website, the team produced a complete feasibility study during its first year with the help of experts from “space agencies and private corporations around the world.”
Mars One has already been collecting candidates for its 2024 launch. Candidates chosen by Mars One will begin training in 2015, and even when faced with the news that the mission could be deadly, several candidates remain undeterred.
Claude Gauthier, a 61-year-old Canadian mathematics professor, told CBC news that the problems laid out by Do and his team would be solved by food transports from Earth.
Fellow candidates and Canadians Paige Hunter and Tyler Reyno also told CBC News they weren’t worried by the study’s findings.
“Obviously, keeping humans alive on Mars is extremely difficult,” Reyno said. “You just have to understand there’s a lot of uncertainty and a lot of unknowns and those who are passionate and inspired will understand that and do it anyway.”