Mars Colonization Poll

I saw a comment by Jim Davis over on NASASpaceflight.com that made me want to do a poll about real attitudes towards Mars colonization.  Let me give some background thoughts, the questions, then some rules for comments.

First off, Jim’s goal here was to ask people questions that really delve into how likely they actually would be to do something like one-way Mars colonization, especially if the situation isn’t exactly a paradise.  He wanted someone to do a scientific poll, and while I’d like that too, I don’t have the money to do so myself.  But I think if we do this right, we can at least get some relevant data, even without doing truly random sampling.  But more on that after the questions.

Here are the questions:

  1. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant leaving behind wife and children?
  2. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week? 12 hours? 8 hours?
  3. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if the annual mortality rate was 50%? 25%? 10%?
  4. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if the level of privacy were equivalent to a subway car? A submarine? Antarctic research station?
  5. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it was just yourself? 10 other people? 100 other people?
  6. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant eating food indefinitely equivalent to combat rations? TV dinners? School cafeteria?
  7. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if there were significantly more people of your own gender than the other? Vice versa?

And here are some “control” questions:

  1. What is the longest period of time you have ever been by yourself? Separated from wife and children? Away from civilization?
  2. What are the longest hours you’ve ever worked? How long did you work these hours? How long would you have been willing to work these hours?
  3. What’s the most dangerous work you’ve ever done? What’s the most dangerous activity you normally engage in?
  4. What’s the lowest level of privacy you’ve ever experienced? For how long?
  5. What’s the most bland diet you’ve ever experienced? For how long?
  6. Have you ever had to work for/with someone you intensely disliked? How long did this go on?
  7. Have you ever had to live with someone you intensely disliked? How long did this go on?

Anyhow, here are the rules.  All comments *must* include an answer to these questions, with the number of the questions (both the original questions and control questions).  You can suggest additional questions, or make other comments as well, but you have to answer the questions first.  Use anonymity if you don’t feel comfortable answering under your own name.  You also should mention where you heard about this poll from.  Any comments that break these rules are likely to get deleted outright.

Also, to make this more valid, the wider this can be passed around, the better.  So, if you think this is a good poll, tell friends about it.  Especially friends/blogs outside the traditional alt.space crowd.  I’d be interested in seeing it linked to both by technology blogs as well as right-wing, left-wing, and/or libertarian sites as well.  The more answers we get, the more likely this poll will actually be even remotely useful.  It’s also important to remember that it’s ok if most of the answers are variations on “heck no!”  That shouldn’t be a huge surprise, but it would be interesting to get a wide enough sample to start seeing something closer to at least the opinion of tech-savvy people in general.

If this works out, I’ll do a poll like this on lunar colonization next.

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Jonathan Goff

Jonathan Goff

President/CEO at Altius Space Machines
Jonathan Goff is a space technologist, inventor, and serial space entrepreneur who created the Selenian Boondocks blog. Jon was a co-founder of Masten Space Systems, and is the founder and CEO of Altius Space Machines, a space robotics startup in Broomfield, CO. His family includes his wife, Tiffany, and five boys: Jarom (deceased), Jonathan, James, Peter, and Andrew. Jon has a BS in Manufacturing Engineering (1999) and an MS in Mechanical Engineering (2007) from Brigham Young University, and served an LDS proselytizing mission in Olongapo, Philippines from 2000-2002.
Jonathan Goff

Latest posts by Jonathan Goff (see all)

Jonathan Goff

About Jonathan Goff

Jonathan Goff is a space technologist, inventor, and serial space entrepreneur who created the Selenian Boondocks blog. Jon was a co-founder of Masten Space Systems, and is the founder and CEO of Altius Space Machines, a space robotics startup in Broomfield, CO. His family includes his wife, Tiffany, and five boys: Jarom (deceased), Jonathan, James, Peter, and Andrew. Jon has a BS in Manufacturing Engineering (1999) and an MS in Mechanical Engineering (2007) from Brigham Young University, and served an LDS proselytizing mission in Olongapo, Philippines from 2000-2002.
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62 Responses to Mars Colonization Poll

  1. Jonathan Goff Jonathan Goff says:

    And to start it off, I’ll give my own answers first:

    1-No.
    2-I don’t think I could keep up 16 hr days. 12-hr days maybe. 8hr days definitely.
    3-I’d want to see the annual mortality rate below 10% before I was really interested.
    4-My guess is that I’d need the privacy level of an Antarctic Research Station, but that’s because I really don’t know what privacy level a submarine offers.
    5-I definitely wouldn’t go it alone to Mars. 10 people would be about the bare minimum. 100people more likely, because at that point I might be able to take some family with me without being too much of a burden.
    6-For me I’d need something between TV dinners and school cafeteria. But even that would grate on me after a while.
    7-If my family was there, and I felt they were safe? I think I wouldn’t care too strongly about the population mix.

    Control questions:
    1-All by myself? I’ve probably had at least a week stretch once or twice without direct human contact. Without my family? Longest has been about a month. I get to do that again this next month, starting Tuesday. It sucks. Away from civilization? No more than a week. But that’s because I count the Philippines as “civilization”. If you don’t, you can count that as two years.
    2-Longest hours I’ve worked? That would probably be either during the run-up to the NGLLC. That ramped up to a tempo of probably 12-16hr days, 6 days a week for about two months. My body almost gave up on me afterwards. I got sick enough that I lost 15lbs in a week. I’m a real fan of picking sustainable tempos.
    3-Flying Xoie in the NGLLC was probably my most dangerous job. We hadn’t had enough time to really work out all the bugs, and had there been a theroetical worst case crash that happened towards the direction I was standing, it could’ve been bad. But that was a risk we were only willing to tolerate briefly, and when a lot of money and effort was on the line. Normal risks are much lower than that.
    4-Probably on my mission in the Missionary Training Center. You pretty much have your companion with you at almost all waking moments, you share a room with up to three other people, and at least for the guys, etc. Two months.
    5-Blandest diet? When I was sick with bronchitis post-NGLLC this last year, I could only hold down a few items of food for a bit over a week. It sucked. Other than that, maybe the Senior year of my undergrad at BYU, when I ran out of money and had to beg food from my parents food storage.
    6-Yes. To avoid publicly stating who (even though it was long ago), I’ll say I had to work in a situation with someone I really didn’t like for about 9 months.
    7-I think the hardest person I’ve had to live with was one of my roommates at BYU (who shall also remain nameless). Thankfully that was just a month a half, since it was summer term.

    Anyhow, as you can see…I’m not going to be chomping at the bit for my slot on a Mars expedition. But the interesting question is, are any of you?

    ~Jon

  2. Jim Davis says:

    Jon, I hope this gets some responses.

    To that end I think you should drop the question about sex. While no doubt relevant, it’s a little too personal for a public poll like this.

  3. john hare says:

    1. No.
    2. 12 hours x 6 days
    3. It depends on the payback. It would have to be something so important to the human race that I could justify the risk.
    4. I’m not sure how much privacy any of those have. I like my space.
    5. 10
    6. Cafeteria would work.
    7. Permanantly, no. (Others of course feel differently, i.e. Mojave.)
    control
    1. Under a week.
    2. 90 hours in individual weeks. 80 hour weeks for months. 70 hours indefinately.
    3. I do low risk construction work. Occasional work at 100′ or more years ago. I normally avoid risky activities.
    4. Bunk room on one job for a few months decades ago, 4-8 per room.
    5. Growing up mostly one course meals. Beans or potatoes or chili or etc. Over a year as adult, and seriously dislike that=dealbreaker if in contract.
    6. A few months. I have a real problem with arrogant fools.
    7. No.

    There would hve to be some seriously convincing reasons that what I was doing would make life better for my grandkids. Going for the adventure, fame, or the experience would be a non-starter for me.

    Go west young man, while I stay here in the east and sell wagons. 20-30 years ago I would have felt differently.

  4. PacoDenero says:

    can you make a google docs poll for this? then we can plug and chug easier…sorry, i dont have time to actually fill it out…will do later!

  5. Jonathan Goff Jonathan Goff says:

    Jim,
    Good call. Done now.

  6. Jared says:

    1) Not married. Probably wouldn’t leave them if I was, but wouldn’t mind leaving rather than getting married in the first place.
    2) 12. Maybe 16 for limited periods.
    3) 10% at most.
    4) Antarctic research station. (Minimum.)
    5) No/yes/yes. Obviously 100 would be better. The promise of gradually increasing population would be better still.
    6) Yes to all.
    7) Uneven ratio ok, exclusively male, no.

    Control:

    1) By myself, a couple of weeks; away from family (again, not married), 6 months; civilization, just a few days.
    2) 14 hours a day for a couple years as a grad student, albeit with summers off. I could have gone on like that for a few more years.
    3) Very little dangerous work.
    4) Mass (350+) sleeping on a gym floor for a few days. Drove me nuts.
    5) Collegiate budget=rama noodles and pasta for several weeks on end. Health risks aside, wouldn’t mind doing it again, although would be a sacrifice.
    6) Yes. 3 years, although actual side-by-side work time was sporadic for part of that period.
    7) Yes. Several terrible college roommates, for 1 semester each.

  7. Steve says:

    Original questions:
    1. Not applicable. Never married. No problem. For the married, the goal of long term settlement would make having the wife there an important goal.
    2. I currently work ten hours a day, seven days a week. I would be willing to work that for sure. Sleep disorders keep me from working more. My breathing problem may be ameliorated in space.
    3. An annual mortality of 10% would be acceptable. I am 58 years old now. Maybe too old. I won’t live for ever anyway.
    4. A submarine would be fine on Mars. I would expect less privacy in transit (say, nine months).
    5. Maybe I could handle it alone, as long as I could communicate in other ways. Five or six total would be good.
    6. I am living on TV dinners and Raman noodles now. Combat rations would work—especially in transit. I live on one boring set of fair for two-to-four years, then change it some. Live alone. Grew up on meat and potatoes.
    7. Not an issue. If both genders are present, I would prefer arrangements for long term relationships among pairs. I don’t have to be part of that; but I don’t want to be party to keeping people from having sex when they should be having it.

    Control questions:
    1. No family. I have lived alone for the last five years or so. I routinely go a day or two without seeing any one (twice a month typical). I am used to having technology close by, and I use it to communicate. Loss of e-mail or voice contact would be troublesome if it lasted more than a few days. I have been away from civilization for 7-10 days a shot many times—hiking and camping, field maneuvers in the army. Been through the 24 hours of silence ordeal. I have been out of my relatively small town (30,000 during school year, 10,000 in summer) once in the last two years. And that was a shopping trip to another small town. My schedule works into a 25 hour day, so I rotate from being with my coworkers to being absent. (Being absent is good for writing.) I enjoy being around people, but don’t seem to need it much.
    2. In a straight shot, I have worked 24 hours several times. The longest I’ve managed as a matter of routine is 11.5 hours a day over a year. Have a sleep disorder. Still put in 14 hour days occasionally. Getting old.
    3. I was a peacetime soldier for two and a half years. Now I fix excimer lasers occasionally (they use fluorine gas with 24 kV power supplies); got a couple good shots of fluorine gas. Rappelled in the army; had artillery fired over my head. Work with hazardous chemicals occasionally.
    4. Barracks in basic training. Forty men in one long bay. Six weeks.
    5. Raman noodles. Still a major part of my diet—two packs a day. TV dinner for lunch. Four years this time.
    6. In the army. Two years. Some of the graduate students here qualify to a lesser degree—four years a shot with them.
    7. Some in the Army, as I lived with the men I worked with (see above). Keeping short accounts helps. They didn’t find me easy to live with either.

  8. Bennett Dawson says:

    1. No
    2. Yes, but at or below 12 hrs/day
    3. 25% or below would seem acceptable
    4. Tough question. I’ve wondered about the Apollo missions and how is it “using the can” in front of other people. But for posterity’s sake, a sub sounds acceptable.
    5. At 52, solo wouldn’t be my first choice. 10 or above would work.
    6. Yes. If there’s something to read, I can eat wet sawdust.
    7. Yes, as long as “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress” was required reading for all.

    1. 3 days, 5 days, 3 days
    2. 12 hours a day 7 days a week for 6 years. It was my own microbrewery and I wouldn’t do it again.
    3. Again, brewery work with all the chemicals and boiling liquids.
    4. Married for 15 years.
    5. Not anything I’ve ever done. I did spend 2 months in a hospital at 17 for a broken neck, so that was it.
    6. Yes, a roommate that I despised, it lasted a year or so.

    Great poll! I look forward to seeing more results!

  9. My answer to almost all these questions is “I’ve lived in London.” Try it, it really works!

  10. Pete says:

    Personally I have very little interest in Mars (the worst of both being in space and on a planet, better opportunities on Earth) – it has very low growth potential. LEO and the asteroid belt are far more appealing, far more economic potential – big engineering, huge automated industry, energy, resources, big shipping, large habitats with full environment control, agriculture, etc.

    History has answered many of the human endurance questions, in a manner that perhaps avoids some personal bias. The Inuit had adapted to fairly low privacy levels. Cook’s voyages were typically three years, all male crews in small confined spaces, one trip had a ~50% mortality rate, which was actually fairly typical. During war many volunteers have signed up for greater than 50% per year mortality rates. History perhaps indicates the limits of human endurance, within that, it depends on ROI (which is not good for Mars). What is the future to be had at the other end?

  11. Ani says:

    What’s the annual salary for a Geologist on a Mars colony? What kind of stuff does that money buy? I could put up with a lot depending on what the answers to both those questions are.

  12. Zach says:

    1 – No.
    2 – I’ve worked 16 hour days in the past. I could do it for several months at a time, I guess, though I’d want occasional down-time.
    3 – I think so. While I value my life, I don’t cling to it.
    4 – I could do submarine.
    5 – I don’t know. I tend to be solitary, but being alone for the rest of one’s life is hard. Might be better than being with 10 or 100 other people, though.
    6 – I think so; combat rations are dull, but I hate deciding what to eat anyway. I do like turkey on Thanksgiving, though.
    7 – Sure, not worried either way.

    Control:

    1 – A couple of weeks alone. Two weeks away from wife and kids; it was hard. At least a week at a stretch without seeing even a telephone pole in the remote wilderness (I enjoyed that very much).
    2 – I spent two years working 6 days a week/16 hours a day. I was at my limit at the end of those two years.
    3 – No really dangerous work. I do rock climb once in a while, and I like visiting remote peaks.
    4 – Shared a one-bedroom apartment with three other guys for many months. Lived in a dorm with 5 other guys for a few weeks. Not bothersome.
    5 – I ate a LOT of beans and rice for an extended period.
    6 – Yeah, had to room with him too. Many months at a time.
    7 – See above.

  13. FK says:

    Here are the questions:

    1. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant leaving behind wife and children?

    NO

    2. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week? 12 hours? 8 hours?

    Work for myself, or for some gov’t agencies PR dept?

    3. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if the annual mortality rate was 50%? 25%? 10%?

    NO.

    4. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if the level of privacy were equivalent to a subway car? A submarine? Antarctic research station?

    Perhaps. College dorm privacy issues were irritating, but also interesting.

    5. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it was just yourself? 10 other people? 100 other people?

    10 or more

    6. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant eating food indefinitely equivalent to combat rations? TV dinners? School cafeteria?

    I’d prefer better food.

    7. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if there were significantly more people of your own gender than the other? Vice versa?

    one way, one gender, NO WAY.

    And here are some “control” questions:

    1. What is the longest period of time you have ever been by yourself? Separated from wife and children? Away from civilization?

    approx 1 week for each.

    2. What are the longest hours you’ve ever worked? How long did you work these hours? How long would you have been willing to work these hours?

    10 hours or so. A few months.

    3. What’s the most dangerous work you’ve ever done? What’s the most dangerous activity you normally engage in?

    Residential construction
    Motorcycle riding / kayaking.

    4. What’s the lowest level of privacy you’ve ever experienced? For how long?

    Dorm. years.

    5. What’s the most bland diet you’ve ever experienced? For how long?

    College food.

    6. Have you ever had to work for/with someone you intensely disliked? How long did this go on?

    Sort of, depends on the meaning of “intense”

    7. Have you ever had to live with someone you intensely disliked? How long did this go on?

    Yes. Months.

  14. FK says:

    I think you are leaving unstated the most important information:

    What do you get for this potential sacrifice? I would not sign up for any of that unless I knew I was getting something of great value in return.

    I do back country trips on vacation (which have some level of this type of deprivation) but I also know that I am getting some extraordinary experiences in which I am in control of a great deal of my time.

  15. Flight-ER-Doc says:

    Here are the questions:

    1. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant leaving behind wife and children?

    Yes, although I bet my wife would come with.

    2. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week? 12 hours? 8 hours?

    16? Not sure. 12 or 8? Yes.
    3. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if the annual mortality rate was 50%? 25%? 10%?

    50% – No, if it was that high Mars wouldn’t be ready for colonization
    25% – Hmmmmm. Depends on the mortality cause but probably not
    10% – yes.

    4. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if the level of privacy were equivalent to a subway car? A submarine? Antarctic research station?

    Yes

    5. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it was just yourself? 10 other people? 100 other people?

    Myself? Yes. Can I bring my dog?
    10 others? Depends on the others
    100? Yes.

    6. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant eating food indefinitely equivalent to combat rations? TV dinners? School cafeteria?

    Yes. BTDT.

    7. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if there were significantly more people of your own gender than the other? Vice versa?

    Yes. Especially vice versa (don’t tell my wife)

    And here are some “control” questions:

    1. What is the longest period of time you have ever been by yourself? Separated from wife and children? Away from civilization?

    completely alone? 42 days on a transpac boat delivery

    Wife and children? 12 months (in combat).

    Civilization? whats that?

    2. What are the longest hours you’ve ever worked? How long did you work these hours? How long would you have been willing to work these hours?

    20 hour days for around 4 weeks straight, not counting my medical residency (around 130 hours a week for two straight years, with very few days off).

    3. What’s the most dangerous work you’ve ever done? What’s the most dangerous activity you normally engage in?

    Most dangerous ever? F4 Phantom-II pilot.

    Most dangerous routine activity? Driving in the big city. I’m much more comfortable sailing in a gale, or climbing a mountain

    4. What’s the lowest level of privacy you’ve ever experienced? For how long?

    Military Basic Training – 12 weeks

    5. What’s the most bland diet you’ve ever experienced? For how long?

    Combat rations (MRE’s) – about two months.

    6. Have you ever had to work for/with someone you intensely disliked? How long did this go on?

    Yes, til I got a better job (about two years).

    7. Have you ever had to live with someone you intensely disliked? How long did this go on?

    Yes, about a year until we decided to divorce.

  16. Paul Breed says:

    1)Kid (He’s 23) I could leave, wife probably not.
    If I were younger and Mars colonization was a real possibility it could effect partner selection.

    2)16 Hours a day for a year + is ok, I’ve done it.
    More than 12hrs a day would probably be doable forever.

    3)Depends on when you asked the question.
    For the right purpose I’d accept 50%+
    Hard to answer that question without additional facts.

    4)Need some privacy Submarine levels probably ok.

    5)Yes to all three would need to be tied to the purpose of the trip.

    6)No issues.

    7)When I was 20 this would matter a lot more than it does now.
    No issues.

    Control Questions:

    1)What do you mean by alone?
    When I was 14/15 I spent 4 months living by my self at
    our house in Alaska I did go to school every day.
    (My Mom was in the hospital and Dad was with Mom.)

    I can spend time alone, I probably have a bit of a hermit streak in me.

    2)I ve worked 80 hr weeks for months on end on several occasions in my life.
    I think I could do 70 to 80 hrs/week forever.
    Have done 100+ hour weeks for week long periods several times.

    3)Most dangerous work? Most of the Dangerous things I’ve done were for fun.
    I did a lot of flying in Alaska in high school. (My dad ran a Bush airline)

    I scuba dive.

    I’ve done about 60 freefall skydives.

    I got hit pretty hard skydiving and dislocated my bad shoulder in freefall.
    got it back in place in time to open my main chute. My Main chute deployment handle
    was only accessible to the dislocated arm, could have deployed my reserve with other arm.

    When I was living by myself in Alaska had to deal with a nusience bear hanging around the house on the way out to school several times. (A package of fire crackers works well had 44Mag pistol for backup, never had to escalate beyond firecrackers.)

    4)College Dorm with Room mate.

    5)Diet: Probably Alaska, currently living in Solana Beach CA is probably the complete opposite of bland
    limited food.

    6)Yes, I’ve worked with people I did not like. Have not done so for 15 yrs now.

    7)No.

    Why Claw you way out of Gravity well only to go back down one.
    Asteroids first Mars much later.

    Answers all really depend on the purpose.

    Government PR mission, answer is no.

    Starting an off earth mining enterprise with possibility of eventual return: probably.

    Doing first Archeological dig on discovered Alien Artifacts I’d leave today would accept significant risk and hardship.

    Helping preserve human beings because of incoming Monster Space Rock, 100% would go today. Would accept 100% mortality if mission was likely successful.

    Paul

  17. Kelly Starks says:

    1-5 and 7 no, maybe for 6.

    Frankly, I can’t see a reason I’d want to make a 1 way flight to Mars?

    “control” questions:
    1 – I’m a contractor – I really only get home a couple times a year. Been that way for 10-15 years.

    2 – Longest hours would be about 36 hours for 1 “day” and routinely 16-20 hours a day for a month or two. Stupid project, the long hours meant few of us got anything of value done. I would not now do something that stupid again. 10 hours days would be doable for months, but unless I really liked what I was doing – I’ld burn out.

    3 – Most dangerous work/activity? Can’t think of anything really dangerous (more then driving in bad weather, or using weapons or power tools, dangerous).

    4 – ?? nothing unusual.

    5 – offices with limited breakfast and lunch menus – or just always bringing in the same stuff over and over.. Same thing day after day, etc. That would be ok for months before it just drove me nuts.

    6 – yes – for several months.

    7 – No.

  18. Doug Jones says:

    1- leave wife no, kids, yes
    2- 8 hrs/sol, 5 sols/week, but more in emergency- which oughta be rare!
    3- Averaged over lifetime, mortality is about 1.3% (76 years), so 2-3% is reasonable for harsh environment.
    4- Antarctic is right level of privacy- it’s easier to take a dump if you can close a door.
    5- At least 10 people, and live in a dorm with them for two years before departure, weed out the nutcases.
    6- Good TV dinners are fine (ie, Trader Joes). Bay window sized planter for fresh greens would be great.
    7- Only if polyamory is part of the social structure.

    1- I’ve lived alone most of my adult life, it’s been a bit odd the last three years with my son and my fiancee living with me. Does Mojave count as separated from civilization? If so, more than a decade so far…

    2- My longest hours were about 15-16 hr/day for a few months, about as long as I can stand it. If part of the work is tending a garden, it doesn’t count as work though, it’s relaxation time- especially in 0.38 gee.

    3- My most dangerous work was rocket flight test, more coming next year. Used to jump out of airplanes for the hell of it.

    4. Lowest privacy was in jail, two weeks for contempt of (a very contemptible) court. Bunkhouse, communal showers, but did have doors on the toilets.

    5. Ham, cheese, and lettuce sandwiches for about a year in college.

    6. Does threatening to rip off his head and sh*t in his neck count? He lasted about a year after that.

    7. I lived with my ex a couple times, trying to patch up a seriously broken relationship. Off and on for six years.

    Great set of blackmail questions, Jon!

  19. Sam Dinkin says:

    1. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant leaving behind wife and children?

    Yes. I hope they’d come visit after a while or settle with me, but it wouldn’t be a deal breaker.

    2. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week? 12 hours? 8 hours?

    Yes. Work likely increases the probability of survival and resupply. At 41, I don’t have as much endurance as I used to, but I’d endure whatever hardship that was necessary. I’ll sign on for 102 hours per week (as long as they are Martian hours :)).

    3. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if the annual mortality rate was 50%? 25%? 10%?

    Yes. At 50%, I’d have only a fair chance of even making it to Mars, but it’s a worthy goal that I’d be willing to risk dying for and accept the near certainty of never returning to Earth.

    4. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if the level of privacy were equivalent to a subway car? A submarine? Antarctic research station?

    Yes. I’ve been on a submarine. It would be tighter than that on the trip I assume. At the other end, I assume we’d create some larger air tight spaces with in situ materials, but it wouldn’t stop me if that couldn’t be complete for years.

    5. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it was just yourself? 10 other people? 100 other people?

    Yes.

    6. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant eating food indefinitely equivalent to combat rations? TV dinners? School cafeteria?

    Yes.

    7. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if there were significantly more people of your own gender than the other? Vice versa?

    Yes.

    “Control” questions:

    1. What is the longest period of time you have ever been by yourself? Separated from wife and children? Away from civilization?

    I don’t think I’ve been alone for more than a few days. In the spring, I spent 12 of 13 weeks away from my family for work in a different country. Two weeks is the longest backpacking trip I’ve been on.

    2. What are the longest hours you’ve ever worked? How long did you work these hours? How long would you have been willing to work these hours?

    I worked 10-hour days, 6 days a week for 13 weeks in the Spring. When I was a new consultant, there was one week I billed 40 hours by Tuesday as part of a 5-week, 100 hr/week stint. I’d work 60 hour weeks for the rest of my life if there is sufficient meaning or compensation.

    3. What’s the most dangerous work you’ve ever done? What’s the most dangerous activity you normally engage in?

    My work isn’t dangerous and I don’t participate in dangerous activities. The most dangerous thing I’ve done is have eye surgery. I eliminated the chance of going blind in both eyes by having each eye done on different days.

    4. What’s the lowest level of privacy you’ve ever experienced? For how long?

    Shared a cabin with 10 kids for summer camp for a summer.

    5. What’s the most bland diet you’ve ever experienced? For how long?

    When I went to grad school, I had a box of frozen burritos in the fridge and that was breakfast and dinner. Hot dog with canned sauerkraut and mustard for lunch. I bought a requirements contract: hot dogs all semester pre paid in exchange for a discount and the right to interrupt the line. I did the hot dogs for 3 years and the burritos for 1 until I got married.

    6. Have you ever had to work for/with someone you intensely disliked? How long did this go on?

    Yes. About 18 months. I was uncomfortable with being micromanaged, but the work product was improved. I would have stayed on if I hadn’t gotten a better offer.

    7. Have you ever had to live with someone you intensely disliked? How long did this go on?

    Yes. A couple of years.

  20. Bill Dauphin says:

    Interesting questions:

    1. I certainly wouldn’t abandon a dependent child (my own is now grown) to go to Mars, and I probably wouldn’t permanently leave a wife I was happy with (as I am with my actual wife), except under circumstances similar to those in which I would be willing to DIE for my wife and child. That is, I might go if it were the only way to earn money for a lifesaving medical procedure for my wife or child, or if I were involved in something that put their lives in danger (i.e., if I were going into the Martian branch of witness protection!).

    I might, though, leave a wife behind for a 1-way colonization trip if there were a reasonable hope of bringing her to join me within a reasonable timeframe (i.e., similar to what many European families did when emigrating to the U.S.

    2. This depends on the nature of the work. If it’s creative, fulfilling work (which even digging ditches might be if you understood yourself to be building a new civilization), the amount of work wouldn’t be a barrier. I wouldn’t sign up for a life of essentially unbroken meaningless toil that promised to consume every waking hour until death… but I imagine the “work” of building a frontier society would be fulfilling in ways that would make it a fair substitute for hobbies and other avocations. In that case, “work” that consumed all my time would be no impediment to emigrating.

    3. 50%? Probably not
    25%? probably so
    10%? Definitely so

    4. privacy … equivalent to a subway car? A LIFETIME in a subway car? Probably not.
    A submarine? Antarctic research station? No real experience with either of these, but as long as I have some private space, no matter how small, privacy is not a limiting factor.

    5. IMHO, a long-term one-way solo outpost would be pointless, but even a small number of people would be sufficient company for an initial cadre. 10 would not be sufficient for a lifetime, but any “colony” whose population started at 10 and stayed static for decades would by definition be a failure. OTOH, many people already live and die in communities not much larger than 100, so that would be fine.

    6. For any plan acceptable to me on all the above grounds, food would definitely not be a limiting factor.

    7. Gender mix/balance would also not be a limiting factor. From some of the other comments, I grok that this was originally a question about sexual deprivation, so I’ll answer that one, too: Sexual feelings are a natural part of being human, and some form of sexual expression is important. Without being unnecessarily graphic, that does not necessarily mean that the presence of sexual partners is essential. See also the answer to the privacy question.

    That said, as with the population question, one of the things that distinguishes a submarine or research station from a COLONY is the possibility of non-work-driven interpersonal relationships… including sexual ones. “No time/partners for sex” is fine for the formational years of a colony, but any settlement that has existed for multiple decades and STILL doesn’t allow for the possiblity of dating and/or marriage has failed as a colony.

    General comment on these questions: They’re all asked as if the privations described would be static and permanent, but if the goal is settlement/colonization is the goal, then “static” is the least likely (or desirable) possibility: A colony will either grow or die, so even if it starts out as 10 straight men living in a single tent, working every waking hour, and eating nothing but energy gels, it’s NOT going to stay that way for a lifetime (at least not the lifetimes of the 75 to 90 percent who aren’t “mortalities”). For me, the better questions are not what the conditions are, but for how long, and with what promise of improvement? My own answer is that, with the single exception of abandoning a dependent child, I would endure all of the privations described for a nontrivial percentage of my remaining lifespan PROVIDED that I saw a plausible hope of the outpost becoming a true, functional human settlement within that expected lifespan.

    “control” questions:

    1. I’ve been away from my wife and child for periods of up to several weeks, but never as long as a month; I’ve been substantially alone (but still in “civilization”) for a single week on several occasions; I’ve been away from civilization for a weekend (unless you count blazed trails and prepared campsites as civilization, in which case I’ve never been away from civilization at all).

    2. I once worked a 40-hour “day”; I’ve worked 70-90 hr/week for weeks at a time; I’ve worked 60 hr/week (average) for months (but not year) at a time. I’ve never been close to a point at which I would have been willing to quit my job or make other major sacrifices in order to aviod continued overwork.

    3. The most dangerous work I’ve done was a summer I spent on a crew inspecting used oilfield pipe. My most dangerous activity (other than commuting to work) is probably snow skiing… but that’s not all that dangerous the way I do it!

    4. I’ve never been significantly deprived of privacy beyond commonplace situations like sharing a dorm room (or a tent at Boy Scout summer camp).

    5.I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced a bland diet, in the sense of flavor; I’ve had BORING diets for years at a time, in college and graduate school.

    6. I can’t recall intensely disliking a coworker; I can’t swear none of them has intensely disliked me.

    7. Never lived with anyone I’ve intensely disliked, even briefly.

  21. JohnHunt says:

    Let’s not let the responses confuse the situation. It is interesting to answer but is not particularly relevant to the question of whether there’s someone out there who would be willing to do any and all of these things. After the first hardy, unmarried souls establish the initial colony, then it will grow in population, have greater variety of food, not require such long work hours, etc. Then the rest of us can go and not have to live such a spartan life.

  22. Bill White says:

    As for gender balance, if this were a one-way trip, choosing stable married couples would seem a wise choice for mission planners.

  23. Jim Bennett says:

    If you don’t either take a spouse and children, or have a reasonable expectation of finding a spouse and having children there, it’s not colonization, it’s just reconnaissance

  24. Bill White says:

    My answers:

    1. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant leaving behind wife and children?
    NO

    2. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week? 12 hours? 8 hours?
    YES, however I believe boredom from lack of needful work would be a greater threat than overwork.

    3. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if the annual mortality rate was 50%? 25%? 10%?
    Maybe. Depend on the odds that the colony would survive, even if I didn’t. At 50% annual mortality the entire project would quickly terminate, so why bother? 50% chance of dying in transit followed by much lower annual odds of dying after arrival would be a different question.

    4. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if the level of privacy were equivalent to a subway car? A submarine? Antarctic research station?
    Amtrak couchette? Two people in a single dorm room with community toilets and baths? Seven on-board a 33 foot sailboat?

    5. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it was just yourself? 10 other people? 100 other people?
    Alone on Mars would be a bad idea. IMHO.

    6. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant eating food indefinitely equivalent to combat rations? TV dinners? School cafeteria?
    Yes
    7. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if there were significantly more people of your own gender than the other? Vice versa?
    I would prefer stable committed married couples, to minimize the odds of partner swapping. (Note I said minimize not eliminate.) Sexual jealousies could become murderous easily enough. See Kim Stanley Robinson for speculation on these points.

    = = =
    1. What is the longest period of time you have ever been by yourself? Separated from wife and children? Away from civilization?
    Seven days on a sailboat

    2. What are the longest hours you’ve ever worked? How long did you work these hours? How long would you have been willing to work these hours?
    4 hours on & 4 hours off for 4 consecutive days. Once in the rhythm of X hours on and X hours off I could go for quite a while.
    However, except for “all hands” emergencies, creating 3 watches would seem prudent. 4 hours on and 8 hours off with three teams to cover all 24 hours.

    3. What’s the most dangerous work you’ve ever done? What’s the most dangerous activity you normally engage in?
    Offshore sailboat racing in storms. Have encountered very strong winds and big waves. Team work between helmsman and sail trimmers essential for safety, especially when pushing for maximum speed.

    4. What’s the lowest level of privacy you’ve ever experienced? For how long?
    Offshore sailboat racing

    5. What’s the most bland diet you’ve ever experienced? For how long?
    White rice when sick

    6. Have you ever had to work for/with someone you intensely disliked? NO

    7. Have you ever had to live with someone you intensely disliked? NO

  25. Bill White says:

    I also believe long distance spaceflight would imitate long distance sailboat racing in at least one respect — hours / days / weeks of endless boredom interspersed with moments of sublime beauty and/or stark terror.

  26. Ryan says:

    Like most polls “Why” is almost as important as the answer. Besides isn’t this a loaded question?
    I mean why am I going? Is it a private enterprise where I get a share of the profit? If there is no profit… why go? Let us assume we are going to not just to live but to prosper. Nobody is going to live in a hole without any hope of things getting better, just so we can say we have humans living on Mars. If we go, we go to LIVE not just survive.
    The next big question: Why Mars? The moons a lot closer, and so is L5. Safer to learn how to colonize your neighborhood islands before heading across the ocean. Is it that important to have an atmosphere that you have to stop at a windy, low gravity, rotten egg smelling rock with few mineral resources? I’m thinking there are cheaper ways to get iron and nicer places to live. Why not clean up Venus instead. If you could make it habitable in a few 100 years it might be worth the work. At least you have nearly 1 g under you feet (90% vs. 30%) So you wouldn’t have to worry about your freakishly tall spaghetti shaped great grand kids breaking in half when you go on vacation back to earth.

    Ok so now to the questions.
    1. … leaving wife and children?
    No. If I’m going to colonize something (mars or anywhere else) why would I leave behind my genetic offspring? (ask me this 13 years ago I would have been happy to go and start the family when I got there.)

    2. working 16 hours a day?
    Welcome to my life, if you add personal work with the work I get paid for. However, when I worked at NASA Dryden, they send you home after 10 hours. It didn’t matter if you were sweeping the floor you went home or you got a safety violation. I would assume that after spending huge sums of money to send a bag of highly educated sentient meat (aka. people) millions of miles you would want to keep them alive. Each person is a substantial investment so it makes very little economic sense to skimp on the safety which includes working them to death.

    3. annual mortality rate was 50%? 25%? 10%?
    (See answer 2)
    Anything above 20% will be fatal to the program. If the government tried to do this it would fail for political reasons. If a private company let that many people die it would be sued into bankruptcy. Besides Human capital is VERY hard to replace. If you have a 20% annual attrition rate you can not have a sustainable colony, because it takes at least 12 years to replace one lost breeding pair. And that doesn’t include the fact that the work load per person will lower the rate of birth. Assuming that you want a colony that actually has a chance to succeed then you can NOT have attrition rates this high.
    I did a quick and dirty “best case” calculation: Assumption: 50-50 male-female crew, 100% fertility, one child per year per female for life, 12 years maturity, no child mortality, 100 person to start with, no resupply, 20% yearly attrition; Will not have more then 100 adults until year 43, with a probable colony collapse at year 12 with 4 adults and 227 children.

    4. Level of privacy were equivalent to a Antarctic research station?
    I am a father, I left my dignity and ego in a ditch when I bought a minivan. However I don’t see the point of the question. How does privacy equate to mass sent to the moon or mars or where ever we are going. I can understand during the trip, people will be on top of each other, stuffed in a can, but when you get there you will have a whole planet to live on. You have to use what you find there to build. You can’t keep sending building supplies from earth. So you build a place that has 50 rooms instead of one. That just takes time, not mass from earth.

    5. if it was just yourself? 10 other people? 100 other people?
    More the merrier and the better chance of success. I don’t know the limit but if it is one way you had better have a genetic diverse population. (if you land just 10 people you will have a colony collapse in year 9 with an attrition rate of only 2% per year. 0 adults with 25 kids under age of 9.)

    6. combat rations? TV dinners? School cafeteria?
    Living indefinitely on one source of food is not healthy. Nor is it advisable to ship cans from earth forever. Any true colony MUST grow it’s own food. Then it is just up the skill of the cook.

    7. significantly more people of your own gender than the other?
    See 5. More woman the better if you want to start a colony but they tend to have problems working long hard hours when they get knocked up. So a good 50/50 split would probably work best.

    And here are some “control” questions:

    1. What is the longest period of time you have ever been by yourself? 4 years
    Separated from wife and children? 1.5 year
    Away from civilization? (does Edwards AFB count? 1.5 years)

    2. What are the longest hours you’ve ever worked? 12 hour days, 6 days a week for 2 months.
    How long would you have been willing to work these hours? The day off helped a lot. Depends on how much I get paid.

    3. What’s the most dangerous work you’ve ever done? Flight Test Engineer
    What’s the most dangerous activity you normally engage in? Driving in rush hour traffic

    4. What’s the lowest level of privacy you’ve ever experienced? Does having your kids walk into the bathroom while you are taking a dump count? or trying to be quite while making the kids because my mother-in-law is in the next bed room? For how long? going on 12 years.

    5. What’s the most bland diet you’ve ever experienced?
    My mom’s cooking. Yum another variation of hamburger, cheese and macaroni.
    For how long? Childhood (18 years).

    6. Have you ever had to work for/with someone you intensely disliked?
    Boss
    How long did this go on? about 2 years.

    7. Have you ever had to live with someone you intensely disliked?
    No, I get along pretty well with most people.

  27. Bob Steinke says:

    I know Jon wants answers to those specific questions with comments separate, but to make it readable I’m going to put comments inline designated with *.

    Poll Questions

    1) No

    *I would be willing to leave behind my children when they are all grown up and out of the house.

    2) 10 hrs per day, 6 days per 7

    *This would depend on who I’m working for. If I have a job with some company working on their stuff then that’s the most I would work. If I’m a subsistence farmer working for myself and it takes most of my waking hours to grow food and maintain the hab I would be willing to work more, but I would probably still put on the spacesuit and take a stroll outside every once in a while.

    *Working people with no breaks would not be in the best interests of safety.

    3) 7%

    *7% per year gives you about a 50% chance of living 10 years. And I would probalby only do this later in life. If I were 60 or over and I had a 50% chance of living 10 years on Mars I would consider that a good trade against living 20 more years on Earth.

    4) yes, any

    * Living on a subway car is an interesting image, but I don’t think you would have any strangers in your Mars hab. I think the inhabitants would make workable accomodations with each other.

    5) yes, any

    * I’m kind of an introvert so I don’t think being alone would bother me much as long as I was doing important things and staying busy. There would also be communication with the outside world. And if you are alone you are probably one of the early pioneers so I would like that part of the situation more.

    * In the interests of safety there should be at least two people.

    6) yes, any

    7) yes, either

    * I’d probably only go later in life, and either my wife would be coming with me, or I would come to terms with the idea that my sex life was over. As far as more people of the other gender, great! Mars need women.

    Control Questions

    1) I lived in a studio apartment by myself with no room-mates for one year. As far as being totally cut off from all other humans, I can’t remember specifically, but probably not more than a couple days camping or something. I was separated from my wife and kids for a week once when we were moving.

    2) I worked 40 hours in three days once. I wouldn’t have been able to keep up that pace over the long term.

    3) I haven’t done many dangerous things. I went skydiving once. I’ve been rock climbing, but those things are only dangerous in comparison to the extremely high level of safety of everyday life. Probably the most dangerous work I’ve ever done is testing rockets. Probably the most dangerous thing I normally engage in is driving my car.

    4) Probably the lowest level of privacy I’ve experienced is college dorms where I lived for two years.

    5) I can eat the same thing over and over and it doesn’t bother me. Once, when I was a college student I bought a 20 pound bag of pintos and a 20 pound bag of rice and ate bean burritos every day. It wasn’t the only thing I ate, but it was at least one of my meals each day. After six months I realized I was kind of getting tired of bean burritos.

    6 & 7) I’ve never had to work or live with someone I intensely disliked. I’ve had room-mates who were somewhat annoying or irresponsible, but not to the point of intense dislike. I’ve put up with that for several months to the end of a lease.

  28. Karl Hallowell says:

    One thing to remark on is that some of the conditions in these questions imply serious problems with the voyage.

    1. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant leaving behind wife and children?

    Not applicable since I don’t have wife or children. But I would be willing to leave behind what I currently do have.

    2. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week? 12 hours? 8 hours?

    High routine workload indicates a serious problem with the mission. In my view, 16 hours a day is suicidal since it means if something goes wrong (and it will), you don’t have much more you can give. 12 hours a day is probably too much as well.

    3. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if the annual mortality rate was 50%? 25%? 10%?

    High mortality rate means something is wrong with the mission. I think any serious mission would have an annual mortality rate under 5%. That would be an acceptable threshold to me.

    4. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if the level of privacy were equivalent to a subway car? A submarine? Antarctic research station?

    Yes, even if my entire life were videotaped (which is a level of privacy far below these).

    5. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it was just yourself? 10 other people? 100 other people?

    Yes even though I might develop off and on depression on a solo voyage.

    6. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant eating food indefinitely equivalent to combat rations? TV dinners? School cafeteria?

    Yes, I’ve gone years at a time with the same diet.

    7. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if there were significantly more people of your own gender than the other? Vice versa?

    Yes, though I become more taciturn around women in a close environment.

    1. What is the longest period of time you have ever been by yourself? Separated from wife and children? Away from civilization?

    I probably haven’t been completely isolated for more than a day or two, same for away from civilization.

    2. What are the longest hours you’ve ever worked? How long did you work these hours? How long would you have been willing to work these hours?

    About three days with maybe 15 hours of sleep. Couldn’t have continued.

    For long term periods, I’ve worked 60 hour work weeks (ranged from 55-70) for two years, could have continued that indefinitely.

    3. What’s the most dangerous work you’ve ever done? What’s the most dangerous activity you normally engage in?

    Travel by car. At least twice a year, I drive 800 or more miles at once, usually without stopping unless I get notably tired. Hike in uneven terrain (particularly when I was recovering high altitude balloon payloads for JP Aerospace).

    4. What’s the lowest level of privacy you’ve ever experienced? For how long?

    Aside from a couple of years in Campbell, CA, I’ve lived with a stranger in either an apartment or dorm style “suite” for a bit over twenty years.

    5. What’s the most bland diet you’ve ever experienced? For how long?

    One summer when it was mac and cheese with Tabasco Sauce for the entire summer. I forget what I used to supplement that diet with other food groups, but I ended up losing a lot of weight.

    6. Have you ever had to work for/with someone you intensely disliked? How long did this go on?

    No.

    7. Have you ever had to live with someone you intensely disliked? How long did this go on?

    No.

  29. Karl Hallowell says:

    Further on, Jim claims that the starting pool containing the volunteers would be greatly restricted from a billion people, meaning even one in a million deviance wouldn’t suffice. Assuming there really was such a small group of interested people in the first place, nobody would restrict their pool of prospectives that much precisely because of that problem. You take what you can get. If that means they aren’t optimal in health or mental ability, then you do what you can to compensate.

    Having said that, I think there are certain mission profiles that we could expect to gain much higher volunteer rates than one in a million. For example, being part of the first group of people to visit Mars and return in a couple of years. It’s not a Mars colonization thing, but here you would be speaking of something that would stay in the history books permanently. Here volunteer rates wouldn’t be 1 in a million. More like 1 in 10 to 1 in 100.

    In a similar fashion, being a founder of the first viable, growing colony would most likely carry quite a bit of status, even if (especially if) you died a year in. That probably would pull in more than 1 in a million people for the status alone.

  30. Jim Davis says:

    First, to answer my own questions:

    1.-7. All are not applicable. I have no interest in one way trips to Mars or anywhere else in space unless my standard of living was at least as high as I presently enjoy.

    Control questions:

    1. The longest period of time I have ever been by myself was during an extended period of unemployment (~18 months) while living in a city with no close friends or relatives. I went weeks at a stretch without seeing anyone beyond a delivery guy. Never having been married the second part is not applicable. While in the Navy my personal record between leaving one port and entering another was 6 weeks.

    2.

  31. Jim Davis says:

    First, to answer my own questions:

    1.-7. All are not applicable. I have no interest in one way trips to Mars or anywhere else in space unless my standard of living was at least as high as I presently enjoy.

    Control questions:

    1. The longest period of time I have ever been by myself was during an extended period of unemployment (~18 months) while living in a city with no close friends or relatives. I went weeks at a stretch without seeing anyone beyond a delivery guy. Never having been married the second part is not applicable. While in the Navy my personal record between leaving one port and entering another was 6 weeks.

    2. The longest hours I’ve worked were while I was in the Navy. I probably averaged 60 hours/week for four years while on submarine duty. There were periods of a few days to a few weeks with much longer hours. Although at the time none of this bothered me I wouldn’t want to do this again.

    3. The most dangerous work I’ve ever done was probably being a crewman on a nuclear submarine for four years though at the time I didn’t consider it dangerous. Currently, driving, air travel are my most risky activities.

    4. Navy boot camp for nine weeks was my lowest level of privacy.

    5. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced what I would call a bland diet.

    6. Yes, while in the navy I had a division officer that I intensely disliked for about a year.

    7. No. While in college I had a few roommates that I had serious issues/disagreements with but it never got to the stage of intense dislike.

    I would like to supply some background on how the questions arose. Frequently, someone will state that there are thousands (occasionally, millions) of people who would be willing to make one way trips to Mars or elsewhere. When I ask where these numbers come from I am usually told that on such and such an occasion a show of hands was asked for how many people would be willing to do x and a high percentage raised their hands.

    Let’s set aside the point that it is very easy to volunteer for an activity one will never be called on to follow through on. It still always seemed to me that these show of hands are meaningless unless there is some concrete notion of what that activity entails and under what conditions. Otherwise every hand raiser is basically volunteering not for a one way trip to Mars as it might actually be but as he or she imagines it to be. So off the top of my head I came up with a list of questions which would put more meat on the bones so to speak.

    I’ll try to address one of the questions that has been raised.

    “I think you are leaving unstated the most important information:

    What do you get for this potential sacrifice? I would not sign up for any of that unless I knew I was getting something of great value in return.”

    The scenario as I envision it is this: You have expressed interest in a one way trip to Mars. Someone is offering it to you and has described in general terms the conditions you can expect. Period. You must decide whether to accept or reject the offer. You get nothing except the trip to Mars. There are no guarantees of success. There are no guarantees that others will follow. The trip has nothing to do with a colonization project or anything else you hold dear. You’ve expressed interest in going to Mars; someone is offering to send you there. Once on Mars you’re working only for yourself(or yourselves). You can try to found a colony and entice others to join. You can try to merely live out your lives in a unique setting. You can try to be self sufficient. You can try to have supplies sent to you from earth periodically in exchange for services rendered. Entirely your choice. Things might get easier after awhile, they might not. You might thrive and others might follow. You might be committing slow suicide. You don’t know how you’re going to make out beforehand. You’ve been offered a trip and some general conditions. You decide whether to accept it. No promises, no guarantees beyond the trip to Mars.

  32. kert says:

    1) Yes
    2) Yes, i work pretty hard anyway
    3) Tricky, but 25% would be fine
    4) No
    5) Alone yes. 10 or 100 other people, no.
    6) Yes, i don’t care about food much in the first place, its just a necessity
    7) N/A. I wouldn’t go with a big gang in the first place

  33. Pingback: Mars Colonization Poll | MarsBlog.net

  34. Tom Hill says:

    1. Yes, at the proper time in life (kids grown, etc) and if my wife were able to support herself
    2. 12 hours is likely my breaking point, and one day off a week would be a big plus. I worked with people overseas who signed on for 12 hours a day for 365 days, and that seemed OK for them, though the work wasn’t overly strenuous.
    3. Mortality rate would depend on many things. 10% or lower would obviously be better. A higher, but declining rate might be OK as well depending on the circumstances. The rate could also be skewed by a single, large disaster.
    4. Submarine, though I’d stipulate OFFICERS QUARTERS. I don’t need a lot of space (fold-up bed with storage racks above and some sort of convertible desk would be plenty) but I would like to be able to close a door. Enlisted submarine sleeping arrangements (racks stacked 3 high, choose whether you want to sleep on your front or back before getting in) would be OK for brief stints.
    5. By myself, no. Small group (5), with more small groups coming later, yes.
    6. School cafeteria food as the standard, OK. Occasional times on rations, OK. Occasional special occasion ‘treat’ of good stuff works too. That’s worked well on previous expeditions.
    7. Yes. Yes. All one sex wouldn’t work.

    Control
    1. Time spent by myself: Probably a couple days. Don’t remember a specifically long period, though as long as I have things to do it’s never bothered me. Sep from wife: ~4 months multiple times over a 1-year overseas tour. Away from civ: 3 days of camping (I consider my one year tour at a remote site overseas be in civilization. There were 75 Americans, a combined club, and a convenience store.)
    2. 12 hours on a rotating shift (4 days on 4 days off) for about 1 year. That is sustainable, probably even to 6/12 with one day off.
    3. Served in a declared hostile fire zone while overseas, though only occasionally heard distant bombs dropping. Do hobby work with machines (lathe, drill press, saw, etc)
    4. Air Force Field Training 3/room and near-constant time with ~20 others while awake – 28 days
    5. Overseas cafeteria food for 1 year. Occasional treat meals (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc). Food variety has very little impact on me. My wife doesn’t understand how I can eat the exact same thing for breakfast every day when I’m at home.
    6. Not ‘intensely disliked’, though my entire office was not happy with our boss for a while. It was in the AF, so it didn’t last very long ~1 year.
    7. Not ‘intensely disliked’, though I lived with someone who worked in my office for 18 months. We even carpooled. It occurred to me that we were together more than most married couples during that time. We had different approaches to life, which led to some tense moments, but are still in contact.

  35. MARSH says:

    The first colonists will be the pioneers and the ones following will have an easier life.
    The first ones would be people with very special interests in Mars and in being a pioneer and having their name go down in history. They would not be permitted to go unless they agreed to extreme physical and psychological testing. The cost of sending them there would be probably be very high and so they would not only have to answer queations like this but many even more challenging questions. The mentally and physically fitness test would eliminate the old and those who have character flaws. Those highly capable types who climb Mount Everest and journey across the ocean in row boats and those who volunteer for short periods of confinement and stress to the Antarcic know they will probably return and so even they would not volunteer for the one way Mars trip.
    The fact is that people who volunteer for this one way trip to Mars knowing they will face a bleak existence and extreme dangers for the rest of their lives indicates that they are not normal people and may actually be masochists or have suicidal tendencies. Therfore , those who do make the final cut will be so unormal that the whole idea of testing is ludicrus in the first place.
    The Eskimos and those who live in Siberia and the worst deserts on earth probably live under the harshest conditions on earth and maybe those type people would have the best chance of enduring a one way trip to Mars.
    Perhaps we could genetically create a one way Mars colonist who could live side by side with robots for the first 100 years until the place could be made more hospitable to humans.
    The man who built a log cabin in Canada and lived there by himself for 30 years lived in a beautiful environment part of the time and had some risk but nothing like the Mars colonists will face. When he became old he came back to ciivilization in Iowa where he came from.
    The colonists who came to America came to a beautiful but harsh environment and knew it would be tough at first but much better in 10 years or so. They knew the initial risk was great but that they could live in a paradise eventually .
    Terraforming Mars and even building a city under a dome or inside a cave will be in the far future and probably take many years to bring about unless there are major breakthroughs in the necessary technology to accomplish homesteading and terraforming.
    Therfore I think that the idea of a one way trip to Mars for the first colonists would fail and so at first it must be like astronauts and explorers only and have an enlistment of at most 4 years and these people will not be starry eyed colonist types.
    I had an ancestor who was a mountain man ho went west but he came back in ten years or so.
    The first 30 years prior to colonization of Mars must be done by a select group professional people including scientists and astronauts and engineers who will gradually build the Mars towns and make the place habitable and then , after 30 years , the genetically engineered semi humans who would stay forever and then some volunteer Eskimos and people from the Atacama desert and Siberia and then finally the actual one way colonists after 100 years.

  36. Brian Swiderski says:

    1) If I had a wife and children, and there was little significant chance of them joining me within a few years, NO.

    2) 16 hours per day: NO, I’m not even capable of that. 12 hours per day: YES, if much of the work was constructive and not just maintaining existing systems. 8 hours: YES.

    3) 50% mortality: NO. 25%: NO. 10%: YES, provided the mortality rate goes down with each year of survival.

    4) Subway car privacy: NO. Submarine: NO. Antarctica: YES.

    5) Just myself: NO. 10 people: NO. 100 people: YES.

    6) Food quality like combat rations: NO. TV dinners: YES, if the quality improved over time. School cafeteria: YES.

    7) Significantly more men than women: NO. Significantly more women than men: HELL YES.

    ***Control Questions***

    1) Longest period of time by myself: A few days. Separated from wife and kids: N/A. Away from civilization: Camping for a couple of days.

    2) Longest hours ever worked: 12. For how long: A week. How long willing to work these hours: Two weeks, but only because I wasn’t prepared for it.

    3) Most dangerous work ever done: Minor electrical repairs. Most dangerous activity normally engaged in: Driving an old car.

    4) Lowest level of privacy ever experienced: Summer camp cabins, six to a room. For how long: A few weeks.

    5) Blandest diet ever: Crackers, chips, and soda. How long: My teenage years.

    6) Ever had to work for/with someone strongly disliked: YES. How long: A year (in elementary school – vicious teacher).

    7) Ever had to live with someone strongly disliked: YES. How long: Teenage years (despised my parents).

    ***
    Conclusions: I’d probably be a third-wave colonist. Jon, I recommend adding some questions about expectations of future improvement in conditions, because I think that’s a major factor in any decision to become a colonist. Nobody wants to spend their entire life scrabbling for the same scraps – colonization is about hope to move forward. People will accept great up-front sacrifices if they believe their efforts will be rewarded, but not if they’re dying just to stand still.

  37. MARSH says:

    Potential Mars ” One Wayers” should be given a two year free “Open House ” on Mars and at the end of this period make up their minds.
    The man who built the cabin , actually in the Arctic was Dick Proenecke and he intended to build a cabin alone and live there for one year , but instead it was so beautiful , he built the cabin all by himself with only a few tools and then stayed for thirty years .
    Read the stories of Robert W Service including “Dangerous Dan Mcgrew” and “The Cremation of Sam Mcgee” and other sories about the Yukon and its harsh conditions which would look like a piece of cake compared to Mars.
    It has a few lines that illustrate the harsh conditions and strange things men request and maybe actually do under these conditions.
    “There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold , and the Arctic trails have there secret tales that would make your blood run cold. The Northern lights have seen queer sights , but the queerest they ever did see was that night on the Barge in Lake Lemarge, where I cremated Sam Mcgee.
    Now Sam Mcgee was from Tennessee where the cotton blooms and blows and why he left the south to roam round the poles .. God only knows.
    Sam hated the cold .. but the land of gold seemed to hold him in a spell.. though he’d often say in his homely way .. I’d sooner live in Hell.”
    The final lines ..after his friend Sam begs him to cremate him and he puts Sams body inside , he hears a noise inside the furnace and opens the door.
    “.. and there sat Sam looking cool and calm in the midst of the furnace roar …and he wore a smile you could see a mile and he said… ..Please close that door. Its warm in here but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and the storm….since I left Plum Tree down in Tennessee , its the first time I’ve been warm.”
    The point is , until you actually get to Mars , you won’t know the reality of it and good intentions may evaporate but there will be no other place to go.
    Maybe they will have to take potential Mars “One Wayers” to Mars for an “Open House Look” including the refreshments , and then give them TWO YEARS to decide on whether thay want to stay for the rest of their lives.

  38. Brian Swiderski says:

    Someone needs to get some women to answer this poll. I’d be really curious about their answers.

  39. Tom D says:

    I don’t expect to see Mars “settled” until well after town are functioning on the Moon and in Earth/Moon orbits, but I can imagine some Antarctic-style research bases on Mars. I would not be surprised to see a base developed on the Phobos or Deimos before a surface base. Of course this development could speed up considerably if there was some practical way to get the travel time to Mars down to under a month (polywell-style fusion, beamed power?)

  40. Deborah Hill says:

    1. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant leaving behind wife/husband and children? no — but I’d leave the kids after they were grown (at least married) and if I could take my husband with me
    2. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week? yes 12 hours? yes 8 hours? yes
    3. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if the annual mortality rate was 50%? no 25%? no 10%? yes
    4. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if the level of privacy were equivalent to a subway car? no A submarine? yes Antarctic research station? yes
    5. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it was just yourself? no 10 other people? no 100 other people?yes
    6. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant eating food indefinitely equivalent to combat rations? yes TV dinners?yes School cafeteria?yes
    7. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if there were significantly more people of your own gender than the other? YES Vice versa? no — threat of sexual assault is real

    And here are some “control” questions:

    1. What is the longest period of time you have ever been by yourself? two days. Separated from wife/husband and children? a weekend Away from civilization? two days
    2. What are the longest hours you’ve ever worked? 10-12 hours a day. How long did you work these hours? off and on for three years How long would you have been willing to work these hours? about three years
    3. What’s the most dangerous work you’ve ever done? working with single men (Did you know that women in Iraq/Afghanistan are more likely to be assaulted by their peers than injured by the enemy?) What’s the most dangerous activity you normally engage in? driving
    4. What’s the lowest level of privacy you’ve ever experienced? group showers at Air Force ROTC field training For how long?10min/day for 28 days
    5. What’s the most bland diet you’ve ever experienced? IV fluids only For how long? a week
    6. Have you ever had to work for/with someone you intensely disliked? yes How long did this go on? years
    7. Have you ever had to live with someone you intensely disliked? no How long did this go on?

  41. Pete says:

    On further reflection I do not think I would want to go to mars at all – it would not be worth any real sacrifice. I would be willing to bet my life on the asteroid belt if I had the equipment to build stuff there and could reasonably hope to help grow a space faring civilization, but only after I had spent a few years practicing in LEO with lunar derived resources.

  42. Jared says:

    1. Well at the moment I’m not married. And if I were to go, I’d marry someone that I know would go with me. But I wouldn’t leave wife or kids behind. And wouldn’t leave unless I had them. (I have a feeling looking for woman on mars would get pretty tough)
    2. I guess it really depends. The work, the people, the amount of time there would be such a hard work schedule. But I guess what I WANT to do is irrelevant. If I had to, I would work 12 hour days. Much more than that, and my body probably wouldn’t be able to handle it. But I would prefer something more along the lines of 10 hour days with at least one day off. If that was the upfront pitch, I could handle it. Anymore than that, and I’d be hard pressed to go. Id have to know the mission really needed my specifically to go.
    3. 10% is too high. There’d have to be some pretty cool stuff on Mars to make such a trip worth it. And my guess it wouldn’t be all that cool to be a colonist. Mortality rate would have to be at most 6%
    4. Sure. As long as have something to shut me off from the world for a bit. Noise canceling headphones. And a personal computer just to escape for a bit.
    5. There’d have to be more than 20. Any less than that, and I get sick of certain people and off myself. Or at the very least, and increasing number of people. If it started out with just 3 people, but then grew to 50 at about the time I died, I’d be fine with that.
    6. Yes.
    7. Gender is irrelevant if I’m married and have kids.

    1. Never. 4 hours at most. Who goes camping by themselves?
    2. 9 hour work day. 1 day. Kinda enjoyed it. But that’s cause it was easy, and only for one day.
    3. Pole vaulting? That’s about as dangerous as I get. Done it for the last 3 years.
    4. Camping for a week with someone always with you. Wasn’t bad at all. (my answer will be much more interesting in 2 years and 3 months from now. Missions FTW!)
    5. Bland food doesn’t bother me that much as long as occasionally I get something a little different.
    6. Nope. I’m pretty lucky.
    7. Nope, I’ pretty dang lucky.

    But in the end, in order to convince me to go to mars, I’d have to have some sort of vested interest in it. I wouldnt go just cause i can. If I worked for Nasa and my work revolved around this idea, then yea, I might go. But If Im a plumber, then no, I wouldnt want to go to mars. Id have to already be involved somehow.

  43. Mike Lorrey says:

    1. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant leaving behind wife and children?
    Yes.
    2. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week? 12 hours? 8 hours?
    Yes.
    3. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if the annual mortality rate was 50%? 25%? 10%?
    No. 5% yes.
    4. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if the level of privacy were equivalent to a subway car? A submarine? Antarctic research station?
    Yes to all three.
    5. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it was just yourself? 10 other people? 100 other people?
    Yes.
    6. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if it meant eating food indefinitely equivalent to combat rations? TV dinners? School cafeteria?
    Yes. Love MREs.
    7. Would you be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if there were significantly more people of your own gender than the other? Vice versa?
    Yes, and HELL YES.

    And here are some “control” questions:

    1. What is the longest period of time you have ever been by yourself? Separated from wife and children? Away from civilization?
    Months. Not married, no kids. Months.
    2. What are the longest hours you’ve ever worked? How long did you work these hours? How long would you have been willing to work these hours?
    36 hours working online. Actual physical labor: 16 hours.
    3. What’s the most dangerous work you’ve ever done? What’s the most dangerous activity you normally engage in?
    Combat. Flightline maintenance. Anti-sniper interdiction. Extreme Backcountry skiing/guiding/instructing.
    4. What’s the lowest level of privacy you’ve ever experienced? For how long?
    45 guys in open bay living, basic training, 6 weeks.
    5. What’s the most bland diet you’ve ever experienced? For how long?
    Tuna/chicken/salad/fruit training diet.
    6. Have you ever had to work for/with someone you intensely disliked? How long did this go on?
    Yes. Year and a half.
    7. Have you ever had to live with someone you intensely disliked? How long did this go on?
    Yes. Since birth.

  44. Tom Hill says:

    My wife posted answers to this poll, but her comment is awaiting moderation. She brings up some interesting factors, probably the reasons for the moderation.

  45. Notaname says:

    I’m not interested in going on a one-way trip to Mars however I will answer as if I was to the best of my ability.

    I’ll use Bob Steinke’s formatting as it seems like a good idea.

    Answers:

    1. No.

    * However I don’t have a wife or kids.

    2. Yes to all.

    * Supposing normal health without illness and depending on how challenging and demanding the work is then 16 hours a day all the time would be perfectly acceptable as long as it is of generally moderate intensity. I would also accept all ranges down to nearly zero depending on the availability of simple amenities like reading material/a computer, rudimentary exercise equipment etc. Cabin fever is a far worse danger than continuous work that is sensibly and responsibly implemented.

    3. Yes to all depending on purpose.

    * Very hard to answer but 50% would be a clear no unless there was some kind of very compelling reason. 25% seems unlikely without the same. For 10% being the first or among the first 100 as well as having clear significant objectives with a high likelihood of lasting success for future arrivals might be enough but would still require some soul-searching.

    4. Submarine and Antarctic research stations levels.

    * I would expect to be continuously monitored medically. With regards to privacy in respect to any fellow travelers the privacy level of a small submarine could be acceptable if it’s a closely knit team.

    5. Yes to all options.

    * However I think I would prefer going alone, I have a rather abysmally low opinion of human nature in general and in addition there isn’t much “drama” by oneself.

    6. Yes to all options.

    * And I’ve eaten all the options!

    7. Yes either way.

    * I wouldn’t go to Mars to get laid anyways, Venus perhaps but not Mars.

    Control answers:

    1. 7 years. 1 year no children. 2 weeks.

    * Almost continuously for 7 years of illness. 1 year first marriage. Deep in primordial jungle for 1 week, not as remote mountain highland for 2 weeks.

    2. 14 hours or more * 6 days * 5 months.

    * 14 hours a day or more for 6 days a week fairly hard physical labor partly in very hot environment for months. Would not be willing to repeat that and eventually willpower doesn’t matter.

    3. Military service. Smoking.

    * I don’t usually engage in any particularly dangerous activity bar my own foolishness, however that foolishness is endemic …and except for smoking one or two packs a day.

    4. Dormitory, 2 years.

    * Military 1 year, dormitory 2 years, 4 years of marriage.

    5. Half a year living on hospital liquid food replacement, water, small quantities of fried pure beef with salt, non-wheat non-maize cereal, soy milk, and small amounts of peppers, onions, and canned tuna.

    * The primary nourishment of a daily single meal of half a liter of liquid food replacement smelled like urine and tasted extremely bad. Numerous severe food intolerances at outset of illness.

    6. Several times, various lengths, about 4 months at most.

    * I should note that as far as I know someone who intensely disliked me (but whom I didn’t dislike) has worked closely with me about 6 months.

    7. Only briefly, days.

  46. Josh Cryer says:

    This reminds me of a MySpace or FaceBook “quiz” but I’ll give it a go! (No offense!) 🙂

    Questions:

    1) Yes.

    2) Yes. But I don’t know where that number comes from. I would lower it to 4-6 hours a day simply because of the technical advances necessary for Mars survival. You have a hydroponics bay the cost to set up automated ph level testing is nothing compared to the effort required to do it by hand every day. You want water from the Martian regolith, you aren’t going to be shoveling it by hand, you’ll have a small bulldozer (like a Mars bobcat). Reduction of human error and human failure is paramount so from my point of view this means more technology. But, I am fine with 16 hours a day. I’d be fine with 20 hours a day. So you can see where my answers are going already.

    3) Mortality rate would have to be 25% or lower. I do high risk things, but I ain’t suicidal.

    4) Privacy is irrelevant, I am going to Mars! I’d do it if I was confined to a room the size of a closet and it had 2 other people.

    5) I would do it if I was totally alone, abosolutely. Number of people wouldn’t matter so much. You could put me in a big ship with modules the size of coffins, with only feeding tubes and a toilet strapped to my butt, and I’m going.

    6) I had a diet consiting almost solely of rice for several years there. I could eat an algal protein feed product with vitamin nutrients, and be fine.

    7) Eh, yes, but a few females would be nice, it would not be a game changer.

    Control:

    1) Utterly alone without any human interactions whatsoever? 9 months. I had a survival hippy stint in my younger years and lived off the land if you will. Only I didn’t die like Chris McCandless. If you don’t count business interactions (work, paying bills, buying food), I’m currently experiencing an extended stay away from civilization. 😉

    2) 18 hours for several months. This truly is not something I would want to do for any extended period of time. Some days I was doing two day 48 hour stints while we were in software crunch time. This was unacceptable. I am not a major worker, but we’re talking about Mars here! 🙂 I could do it, I’m only 34, I think my body could handle it for at least 10 years yet.

    3) Probably construction, hanging 100 feet off the ground, I still do construction and almost had a building fall on me a few months back during a massive wind storm. Most dangerous activity? Well, does BASE count? Haven’t done it in some time though, so free climbing might count. Or driving a motorcycle.

    4) My brother lived with me for 2 years, but we shared an apartment. So. Granted I have no real experience with utterly no privacy.

    5) Ahh, I already answered this. Rice for years when I was a poor student trying to live like a dirty hippy.

    6) Nope. I don’t mind most people, even the most annoying people I can deal with. I’m currently working among some of the worst scoundrals you can imagine.

    7) Nope.

    Now, to add one issue I have with this. Working very long hours would be a very difficult thing for me to do on a Mars colony effort. If we don’t take along much technology to make things easier, then it is going to be very difficult for me. That said, I’d still do it, and I’d be willing to undergo whatever tests are necessary to prove that I could. But there are physiological issues that must be addressed, as I don’t believe any human can live the rest of their life working 16 hours a day. It really depends on the level of work that we’re talking about. Sitting at a console monitoring robots digging regolith to extract water is far different from being outside the hab in a suit shovelling it by hand.

  47. Randy Campbell says:

    46 responses already? I’ve got a lot of reading to do…
    …and a response (no time tonight)

    Jon; how much is ex-and-current military going to tend to skew the responses? I’ve only managed to review a few and it doesn’t look like the “typical” answers are geared to what “we” are used too…

    Randy

  48. ron says:

    Do you realize how bias your questions are by starting out asking if one was willing to leave behind “wife”?
    Do you really intend this survey only for men?
    Why not use the word, “spouse”?

  49. Brian says:

    1. yes
    2. 16hr=no, 12=yes, 8=yes
    3. 50%=no, 25%=yes, 10%=yes
    4. yes
    5. yes
    6. yes
    7. yes

    And here are some “control” questions:

    1. by myself = 2 months, away from spouse = 36 years, away from civ = 2 months
    2. longest hours worked = 96 hours (four 24-hr days). I couldn’t work any longer without more than cat-naps.
    3. never any dangerous “work”, unless you count sitting behind a desk waiting for a fatal heart attack.
    4. ten people working 96 hours in five cubes prior to a product release. Bathroom down the hall.
    5. Oatmeal EVERY morning.
    6. yes, several years. People can get along when they have to.
    7. No, not intensely. mildly – yes, for two years.

  50. john says:

    Several million Earth people would be willing to make a one way trip to Mars if they were provided with free land there and basic means to survive and improve their current condition (on Earth)…

    The real issue of how do you rapidly terraform Mars?

    The military have long had their plan: nuke the polar caps to release the greenhouse gas that they contain…. Who knows, may be TPTB have already begun the process without public advertizing? Some say that Mars climatic conditions have surprisingly improved since the pictures sent by the Mariner mission back in the 60s… The recent pictures sent by the ESA Mars orbiting probe hint of many ongoing things on Mars…

    A trip to Phobos is less energy expensive than landing on the Moon. Hence, Phobos is an ideal place to install an orbiting base from which you can install refuelling and regular Mars landing cacacity…

    John

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