What would your dream job be? Take a second to think about it, and then imagine being paid to do that job on Mars. I’ll bet your career—designer, engineer, farmer … whatever you aspire to be—just got a lot cooler (pun intended). If living and working on another planet appeals to you, then you’ll be happy to know there’s a very real chance you could find your next position on the big red planet. This past summer, NASA released a poster series online titled, “Mars Explorers Wanted,” with retro recruiting posters featuring occupations necessary for life on Mars, including a call for teachers, technicians, surveyors, etc.
Originally, the posters were unveiled in 2009 at the Kennedy Space Center for exhibition, to represent a fantastic dream. But, with NASA’s Mars research accelerating, that ambition is becoming less dream and more reality. In an overview of NASA’s Journey to Mars project on its website, officials say that, “While far away, Mars is a goal within our reach.”
Current plans involve a three-phase system that includes practicing Earth-reliant exploration with experimental testing to ensure long duration missions into deep space, Proving Ground research (conducting operations in a deep space environment), and Earth independent activities, which will focus on such things as harvesting Martian resources to create oxygen, water, and fuel in order to sustain life on Mars.
With this approach, NASA’s goals are to expand their knowledge of sustaining life in other planets and unveil the potential for life beyond Earth. This means that NASA is extending beyond their technologies and power to survive on Mars, but to thrive on it. And what that means, is to be able to make a life on another planet, with your own businesses, careers, families, etc. With human health and behavioral research being done in the Earth reliant exploration phase, your future job on Mars, though depressingly far away from Earth (7 months to be exact), can hopefully become an oc-cupation to associate with home. So just how close are we to having this ideal colony of human life, careers, businesses, etc. outside of Earth. When it comes to inhabiting the red planet, SpaceX founder and CEO, Elon Musk, says it could be in as little as 40 or more years.
For comparison, it took approximately 70 years before the first person went from flying through air to flying to the moon. The goal, as Musk explained at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, is “not about everyone moving to Mars, [but about] becoming multiplanetary.” In an interview with Ron Howard during National Geographic Channel’s global event series, Mars, his reasons for being so ambitious towards Mars appear to stem from an essential need for it. “The future of humanity is fundamentally going to bifurcate along one of two directions: Either we’re going to become a multi-planet species and a space-faring civilization, or we’re going to be stuck on one planet until some eventual extinction event,” he says.
While human colonization on Mars could come in 40 years, Musk is also ambitious that initial flights that transfer humans to Mars could come in the 2020’s, making these rousing posters illustrating NASA’s dreams of recruiting on Mars all the more possible. In light of such hopeful prospects, it’s hard not to get excited about our future on Mars. So if you’ve always wanted to travel to space, but your career hankerings lean more towards surveyor, teacher, or something other than being an astronaut, there might well be hope for you.