Who should go to Mars?

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Here’s what it takes to survive the mission

Elon Musk laid out his plan to colonize Mars at a conference on Tuesday, but it was during the Q&A session that a woman asked one of the key questions: who will be chosen to embark on a risky trip to colonize a harsh planet?

“If normal people want to travel to Mars, do we need some specific requirements?” she asked. “Can normal people go?”

The SpaceX CEO had two answers to this line of questioning. “We’re trying to make it such that anyone can go,” he said, with “maybe a few days of training.” However, the trip will be dangerous. “The risk of fatality will be really high. There’s no way around it,” he later said. “It would be basically, are you prepared to die? If that okay, then you’re a candidate for going.”

But choosing a candidate for a mission to Mars might require a bit more than that, and sending “anyone” to space sounds like a recipe for disaster. Astronauts who go into low Earth orbit have to pass a strict vetting process. Living in space, in a confined environment under high-stress situations, takes both physical and mental tolls. So, we’re left wondering: how much training do you really need? What personality traits should these SpaceX-sponsored Mars colonists have? Should the crews be all-male or all-female? The Verge spoke to experts to try to fill in the holes in Musk’s plan and figure out who would be the perfect candidates for this mission.

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