When Dutch non-profit foundation, Mars One, launched a program to establish permanent human settlement on the red planet, they were inundated with a flood of applications. A staggering 202,586 people signed up for this crazy, one-way trip to Mars, of which 100 made it to Mars One’s highly coveted shortlist .
Taranjeet Singh Bhatia is a part of the Mars 100 list . The 29-year-old is currently pursuing his doctorate in Computer Science at the University of Central Florida. An ‘aspiring Martian’, he is one of three Indians to make it to this elite 100. Taranjeet spoke to ScoopWhoop, and told us why he enlisted for this trip, how he reconciles himself with the fact that if he is chosen, there’s no coming back and how much he will miss aloo paranthas , if he has to bid adieu to planet Earth.
SW: What is a typical day like, when you’re training to go to Mars?
Taranjeet: Training is the most interesting part of this mission. You will have to learn significantly more than any present astronaut on ISS (International Space Station). Each astronaut will be put through the required 10 years of training. They will be isolated from the world for a few months every two years, in groups of four. They will be placed in simulation facilities, to learn how they respond to living in close quarters, while isolated from all humans except for the three crew members.
For the remaining time, they will train in attaining new skills and the knowledge required for the mission, such as physical and electrical repairs to the settlement structures, cultivating crops in confined spaces, and addressing both routine and serious medical issues such as dental upkeep, muscle tears and bone fractures. Those who are unable to keep up with the training or face the isolation test with patience will be eliminated out of the mission.
SW: If you could only carry one material item on your trip, what would that be?
Taranjeet: As I will leave the earth forever, therefore, I want to carry various things to Mars. One item which I would carry will be my prayer book which gives me spiritual peace, strength, and motivation for survival at all times. Removing the fear of death, a detachment of worldly things, and taking a righteous stand in the society are all a part of the Sikh tradition.
Sikh scriptures talk about the existence of other worlds where life exists and we are not alone in the universe. I have committed myself to following the Sikh way of life, which includes treating others with kindness, reject any kind of intoxication, and maintain a healthy mental and physical state.
SW: What made you want to apply for this one-way trip?
Taranjeet: I have been interested in space since childhood. I loved gazing stars, constellations and following cosmic events from my apartment balcony. I always wanted to be an astronaut. There are many unsolved mysteries of the universe such as ‘Are we alone in the universe?’, ‘Can ET hear the sounds of Earth?’, ‘Is there life beyond Earth?’. All these curious questions excite me about space and, not to mention, the amazing zero gravity experience.
Yes, it is a one way trip to Mars and they have no plans to bring us back as of now. I think it is one incredible opportunity to leave your footprints in the course of human history. The initiative of getting people to Mars will be bigger than any single leap of exploration that people of this planet have ever taken.
SW: What, or who, will you miss the most, if you make it to Mars?
Taranjeet: I am going to miss most things about Earth, such as its beautiful expanse of nature, waterfalls, jungles and uncountable species. After that, eating Indian cuisine, especially aloo parantha , fun time with my niece and nephew, travelling with friends and meditation with Gurudwara sangat, among other things.
According to Hindustan Times , the final selection round will be aired on television. Mars One aims to send four people on this one-way trip every two years and the first group of astronauts will depart for Mars in 2024.