Mars One Narrows Applicant Pool: 1,058 People Now In The Running To Colonize The Red Planet

By Josh Lieberman on December 31, 2013 12:31 PM EST

Mars One
Mars One has narrowed down its pool of candidates to 1,058. (Photo: Mars One)

The pool of 200,000-plus people who signed up to live and die on the Red Planet has been narrowed down by a cool 99.5 percent. Mars One announced yesterday that 1,058 individuals have made it to round two. After a series of tests and challenges, six groups of four astronauts will eventually be selected to colonize Mars, with one group going up every two years.

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"We're extremely appreciative and impressed with the sheer number of people who submitted their applications," said Mars One co-founder Bas Lansdorp. "However, the challenge with 200,000 applicants is separating those who we feel are physically and mentally adept to become human ambassadors on Mars from those who are obviously taking the mission much less seriously. We even had a couple of applicants submit their videos in the nude!"

Of the 1,058 fully clothed applicants who advanced to round two, 55 percent of the pool is male and 45 percent is female. Ninety-one percent of applicants come from the Americas, Europe and Asia, with 43 percent coming from the Americas, 27 percent from Europe and 21 percent from Asia. Only five percent of the pool comes from Africa and four percent from Oceania.

During round two of the Mars One selection process, candidates will need to have physicians sign off on their health. They'll also meet with the Mars One selection committee, which will interview candidates and further whittle the pool down. 

"The next several selection phases in 2014 and 2015 will include rigorous simulations, many in team settings, with focus on testing the physical and emotional capabilities of our remaining candidates," said Norbert Kraft, Chief Medical Officer of Mars One. "We expect to begin understanding what is motivating our candidates to take this giant leap for humankind. This is where it really gets exciting for Mars One, our applicants, and the communities they're a part of." 

Round three is where things start to get exciting. This is when candidates will undergo tasks and challenges simulating life on Mars, showing they can work alongside one another to perform a variety of tasks. Mars One says that this round may be televised. 

Twenty-eight to 40 candidates will make it to the final round, which will definitely be televised. Mars One is counting on raising $4 billion in revenues from TV sponsorships (Lansdorp expects the Mars One mission to cost $6 billion). The details on what will occur in round four are a little sketchy, but it seems like it will be some sort of "American Idol"-style reality show where people vote for who will be the first Mars colonizers.

Earlier this month, Mars One announced that they'd contracted Lockheed Martin and Surrey Satellite Technology to develop mission concept studies for an unmanned 2018 launch, a test mission before the human colonizers are shipped to Mars. Mars One also pushed back the date for the first manned mission to Mars by two years. They now plan to land the first humans on Mars in 2025.

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