This is a question I was asked by an interviewer at theverge.com for another feature about Mars One applicants (not yet published, as far as I know), and at the time my answer was something like “I don’t even think that’s relevant. The fact that this incomprehensible opportunity is being made available to everyday people everywhere means it’s one that I have to say yes to, I can’t even imagine not trying.”

I still feel that way, but I can say a few more things, hopefully without sounding too fat-headed. The Mars One team has explicitly stated that the traits they are looking for in the selection process are not those traditionally associated with astronauts; rather it is a key set of psychological traits that will be essential to the success of the mission. They describe five basic characteristics: resiliency, adaptability, curiosity, ability to trust, and creativity/resourcefulness. I don’t know if I have exactly the combination they’re looking for, but I do feel strong in all those characteristics, and in a few more besides that I think are also important: optimism, playfulness, collaborativity (made up word of course), non-attachment. I also think I have one paradoxical advantage: I don’t compete. Competitiveness has a key place in many of our key moments in history, but in this scenario I think it would be a dangerous trait, and if the selection team agrees with me on that, then in a group of competitive people it would strengthen my chances!

Realistically, the answer is that my chances are still very slim. There are thousands of other highly qualified applicants. But I know I’d be a great choice, and you never know… anything could happen.

Advertisements