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Dianne takes a step closer to Mars

12 Mar 2015

Dianne takes a step closer to Mars Image

Southbank resident Dianne McGrath has progressed to the final 100 candidates around the world to be selected to travel to Mars.

The 45-year-old was one of more than 200,000 people from around the globe, who applied for the project known as Mars One, which offers a one-way ticket to the red planet.

Southbank Local News first met Dianne in July last year after she made the first cut of 705 applicants.

Having now passed the second last stage of the process, she said she was thrilled to be in the running for the final group of 24.

“It’s been an incredible experience so far and I can’t wait to go through the next phase which is all about the group challenges before we get down to that 24,” she said.

“That involves eight years of training to be ready to be an astronaut that might potentially step on Mars, which would be incredible.”

Should Dianne progress to the final 24, she will train in a team of four until the launch in 2023. From there, one of the four teams will be chosen.

Once the initial four are settled in, Mars One will send more astronauts every two years to the base.

For now though, she faces a series of rigorous group activities and isolation training, which will test whether candidates possess the mental and physical capability to survive eight months of travel in a space shuttle.  

“The biggest challenges are going to be the mental, psychological and emotional challenges that we have of being so isolated and not seeing loved ones again,” she said.

“I met with a prisoner who has been in solitary confinement for three years out of a decades and decades long sentence just to find out how he deals with it.”

“I’m doing a lot of study to help myself get there but I’ve got to keep fit to make sure I stay healthy.”

While many might quiver at the thought of space travel, Dianne said she would be proud to leave behind a unique legacy to future generations and was excited for the challenge ahead.

She said while those close to her were initially apprehensive towards the idea of her one way journey into space, they had all quickly adjusted and continued to provide support.

“My folks have become fantastic support and, in fact, I think mum’s got a little bit of a scrap book these days!” she said.

“My partner’s also been amazing. She helps me get ready for any interviews or activities I have to do, practising and testing me on aspects of Mars and the science and the technology, which is incredibly helpful.”

And while Dianne doesn’t anticipate running into any extraterrestrial beings, she said she believed there was the potential for life on Mars.

“I don’t think there is going to be little green men!” she said.  “I think there will be some sort of organic life form whether that’s microbial or something of that sort of nature. I think we’re quite likely to find something.”

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