Former NASA Space scientist Paul Mortfield with Centennial Journalism students Alex Kamakaris, L-C Kemp and Tara Fortune in April, 2015.

Mars One project: no sex for two years?

David Dunlap Observatory scientist reveals misconceptions about the Mars One expedition

Mars One has been one of the most controversial science projects to date, one that could change our way of living. With uncertainty about what may happen to our Earth in two billion years,  the Mars One expedition is billed as finding a solution for civilization.

The $6-billion project is set to take off in 2023 and there are many misconceptions to clarify before it does.

Paul Mortfield is an astronomer, computer scientist, former NASA researcher and currently the chair of the David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill, Ontario.

The 100 candidates that are being selected to go on this journey are not able to return to earth. Never.

Mortified had the privilege to speak with three of the candidates at the DDO.

“It’s going to be interesting to say the least because most of these people do not have technical backgrounds and to be able to go up there and fix problems… so it’s going to be interesting,” Mortified told students at Centennial College’s Journalism program Friday.

Is this ethically wrong to send people to Mars not knowing if they will survive? Mortfield reminds us how the first mission to the moon was a huge risk and the astronauts were very well aware of them.

“All these astronauts know what the risk is, but the fact is that they’re not picking trained astronauts,” he said.

Part of the difficulties in long duration missions in space is that you lose bone density and sometimes astronauts have to regain muscle weight for up to a year after the mission. This occurs due to the difference in gravity, and children born on Mars may not be able to come to Earth, because of this. The candidates are told not to have sexual intercourse for the first two years to avoid these birth defects.

“As far as the procreation stuff and everything else, it’s going to be interesting to have, in really long duration, having children born in space and live in space for quite a number of years and then come to Earth – they may not be able to live on Earth,” he said.

Mortfield cautions the public not to compare the space fiction films to this Mars project. The films, he says, have numerous, sometimes countless scientific errors. This is reality.