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Durham University News

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Durham University student one step closer to being one of the first humans on Mars

(17 February 2015)

Image of Hannah Earnshaw credit Monica Alcazar-Duarte

Hannah Earnshaw credit Monica Alcazar-Duarte

Durham University student, Hannah Earnshaw, is among the final 100 hopefuls for a one-way trip to Mars as part of the Mars One Project.

Hannah, a PhD student in Astronomy, has been selected for the next round of the selection process which started with over 200,000 applicants.

Hannah will now participate in group challenges to test her response to stressful situations before finding out at the end of the year if she has made the list of 24 people chosen for the mission.

Mars One's goal is to establish a permanent human settlement on the Red Planet by 2024; the next giant leap for humankind.

Human settlement on Mars will aid the understanding of the origins of the solar system, the origins of life and our place in the universe.

Hannah says her motivation for volunteering comes from a lifelong interest in human space exploration.

She said: “Putting a colony on Mars is just a small step in such a big adventure. It is a real privilege to have come so far in the process and to have so much support from my family, friends and colleagues.

“I am very aware that if I’m successful, I will be representing the UK and mankind in this mission. This is a huge responsibility and I am determined to give everything I have to make the mission a success.

“Studying at Durham University encouraged my interest in scientific research and gave me many skills which will be useful on Mars.”

Hannah’s supervisor Dr Tim Roberts said: “I'm delighted for Hannah, but not surprised that they selected her for this opportunity; she is an outstanding student. 

“In astronomy we have the privilege of exploring the Universe, albeit from the safety of our own planet and its immediate vicinity. 

"In Hannah's PhD she has been observing what happens when material falls rapidly onto black holes, using data from ESA and NASA satellite observatories that orbit the Earth. 

“She now has the opportunity to get out there into space rather than just studying it; we're very proud of her achievement in making it so far into the selection process.”

Hannah talks about her hopes and ambitions for the Mars One project in this article for The Conversation. She also talks about why she would like to be one of the first humans on Mars in this video.

Durham University is one of the UK's leading centres for astronomical research with world-class groups working in a wide range of fields covering the observational, theoretical and instrumentation aspects of astronomy.

Durham has achieved world number 1 ranking in one indicator – citations per paper in Physics and Astronomy in the QS World Rankings by Subject.

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