National Geographic Daily News
Mars picture - illustration of a human settlement on Mars

An illustration of a human settlement on Mars.

Illustration courtesy Bryan Versteeg, Mars One

Melody Kramer

National Geographic

Published August 13, 2013

Meet Willard Sollano Daniac.

The 36-year-old electrical inspector from the Philippines—who calls himself a joker and says he dabbles in the physical sciences—is currently the most popular applicant by far on a website recruiting for permanent human settlers to Mars. (See Mars pictures.)

Daniac and more than 100,000 other eager applicants have signed up for the Mars One project, a plan to send humans to Mars—on a one-way trip—starting in 2022. (Related: "Ancient Mars Was Snowy, New Model Suggests.")

The Mars One team plans to pick 40 astronauts from the more than 100,000 applications received from people worldwide. The crew will spend eight years undergoing specialized training in an isolated location to learn skills like dental work and electrical maintenance. In 2022, four of them will be launched into space on a one-way trip to Mars—with more astronauts slated for future missions. (See: "Mars Gets Its Close-Up.")

To help the team winnow down the applicant field, we watched dozens of videos from the Mars One website, deciding who had the skills and the fortitude to take a giant leap into space. Below are several of our favorites:

Bjorn is a 22-year-old Swedish guy who calls himself a "harmonic person." This easygoing space fanatic says he would be the perfect candidate because he's done everything he's wanted to do on Earth—which leaves Mars wide open. (Related: "Mars Curiosity Milestone: Top 5 First-Year Discoveries.")

Kitty Kane is a 23-year-old American who says she's "excited about space travel, but ... more excited about the colony itself." She wants to paint the Martian landscape and juggle during her time on the red planet. "I want to go to Mars because I like eating food out of pouches," she says, as she demonstrates ... eating food out of pouches. (Watch video of Curiosity's "Seven Minutes of Terror.")

Brazilian Air Force member Silva Neto calls himself a "simple guy with big dreams." He wants to go to Mars because he doesn't "want to see history pass through his eyes." To demonstrate his dedication, Neto's video was filmed in front of a large Martian landscape. "My name is Silva Neto and I'll see you here," he says, pointing to the picture behind him. (Also see: "Mysterious Martian Grooves Carved by Dry Ice Chunks?")

Canadian high school teacher Jo—who enjoys pondering, dreaming, and laughing—says she's willing to give up everything she knows to be a part of the mission. "It would be crazy," she says. "I can go at any time. I don't have any dependents. Call me." She also says her sense of humor would help drive the long, one-way mission forward. "I like puns," she reveals. "I like slapstick. Unless it hurts, in which case it's not so funny."

Self-described "aspiring astronaut" Rickard Feiff from Sweden says as long as he can remember, he's loved "exploring, adventures, and the advancement of the human race." His interests include games, socializing, and long walks. "I've had a full and very wonderful life and would regret nothing if I did something completely different," he says.

Mike from Washington, D.C., wins points for posting one of the most creative videos. Using green screens, Mike goes from the surface of the red planet-where he makes a case for himself-before trapezing around the Earth, with props like a backpack and a clown nose. "The time for mankind to live on Mars is now," he says. "Mars has abundant resources, research values, and could teach us to live on our own planet. But learning to live on Mars will be essential for our own survival, if anything threatens our own planet."

Olga, a 31-year-old Russian, whispers at the start of her video, "Somebody help me ... He wants to send me to Mars." The "he" she's referring to is her husband, who filmed Olga from a variety of angles as she makes her case—somewhat unwillingly, it seems—for astronomical success. "I have no sense of humor," she says at one point. Yes, but the video—which includes the Olympic theme music—is quite funny.

Theresa was 20 when she participated in the Utah-based Mars Desert Research Station project. "My crew and I were dropped in the Utah desert, 30 minutes away from helicopter rescue, to live for two weeks," she says. "Complete strangers. Eight-foot diameter. And no working toilet." Six years later, she hasn't been dissuaded from her red planet mission. "I am the perfect candidate because I can do anything with duct tape," she says. "Anything. And I am able to lead, follow, destroy, create. I am a mildly good cook. I haven't killed anybody yet."

If you haven't applied yet, there's still time. Applications for the mission can be submitted through the end of August 2013. Anyone over 18 can apply by posting a video and answering some questions about their interest in the red planet. There's a fee for signing up—it's on a sliding scale ranging from $5 to $75, depending on the wealth of your home country. (For Americans, the cost is $38; so far, more than 30,000 Americans have signed up.)

But—and this is a big but—the application fees don't cover the cost of putting the first people on Mars; the company says those fees will top $6 billion. That amount will cover the technology needed to send astronauts to Mars, as well as some operational costs. A huge funding gap exists, and Mars One won't reveal just how much money they've raised thus far. The ticker on their website indicates they have $115,981 in donations. And about the other $5.9 billion?

That might come from corporate investors, application fees, and possibly a reality TV show, about 10 years in the future. The Mars One website notes that "a big audience has a lot of value," pointing to the Olympics as an example.

So will we see Real World: Mars in about a decade? It remains unclear. But if you have a bit of cash to blow—and want to apply to be an astronaut-slash-possible-interplanetary-reality-show-contestant—it's now time to reach for the stars. Or should we say Mars?

23 comments
Shiela crowford
Shiela crowford

Mr. Kelvin Wayne, if you're not an applicant why you're so affected on this matter??? You're just annoying....??? Its so hard to prove all of your accusations on the guy you referring with..Off course the Mars-One committee are aware on this matters more than you do.. And for sure they are all seeking the truth... So you better keep your Big Mouth shout freaking all applicants of Mars One, You haven't enough proof of your claims too! I feel irritating when i read all your comments, don't you know you are making him more popular because you're annoying his name! There are applicants also complaining since they are being HACKED by a guy from Russia!!! And do you have BIG EYES???? To see many applicants have the same votes they obtain on their application while you only referring to one person??!! I think you're more IDIOT than the one guy on Mars One you referring into!!! You're a great disgrace of our nation!! Because you're unlawful to judge a person!!  

kelvin wayne
kelvin wayne

Yes Erik,  Olga's soundtrack is by Strauss.

kelvin wayne
kelvin wayne

To vereng evans.....this conversation has grown very tiresome.  I have already explained (for those who can count) how the numbers for views and votes show if someone has cheated on the website. Since Mars One likes to keep up with internet talk about the program they undoubtedly have picked up on this.  As previously stated I am not an applicant.  I like to think I have said nothing here they did not already know about.  Perhaps I have helped out in a small way by alerting the voting public that all may not be as it seems.  This may be the case in any sort of voting contest.  "Book and cover"?   Thank you Mr. Evans for your point\counterpoint participation.  By the way,  I was referring to high ratings "being shot down".

jayla melvin
jayla melvin

I have two questions about applying for the trip to Mars: (a) How old do you have to be to apply for the trip?, and (b) If I am currently under the minimum age for the trip, but will be old enough by 2023, can I still apply?

Erik Skelton
Erik Skelton

I believe Olga's soundtrack is not "the Olympic theme music" but rather Also Sprach Zarathustra by Strauss.

vereng evans
vereng evans

Kelvin how can people be confused if each individual has their own understanding, beliefs on what they read, watch etc. If you do have complaint at this article i guess better email their editor directly. How can you accused Mr. Daniac of cheating or doing something that make other candidates and i quote being shot down. We really don't know if he is cheating, do you have basis for that? Before you accused a person you should have a valid evidence to show. As i have read his profile on Mars One, he graduated as Bachelor in Science in Industrial Technology Major in Electronics. He practice Electrical Power Generation and in his line of expertise he knows what he talk about especially his "Infinite Energy " invention. I guess as an inventor there is confidentiality involve. And i believe in right time , right place and right moment he will divulge his invention once he will be selected in Mars One mission. By the way what is your expertise that can help Mars One Project? I will end this comment that " don't judge the book by its cover" ......

kelvin wayne
kelvin wayne

The accidental posting of my first write up twice during the edit phase is hardly worth mentioning. My only problem with National Geographic here is that like any "respectful" news outlet they should think carefully before announcing the "best" or "most popular" candidate for any sort of election.  Reponses to my take on this article clearly show how readers can confuse what is "most popular" and what is "best" as one and the same.  The responder's defense of Mr. Daniac for his cheating clearly indicate how misinformation can be used to alter the choice of voters.  I never meant to suggest the magazine or website was intentionally misleading the public.  However, those responding to my initial writing clearly display how people can be accidentally mislead by information that is not carefully considered and delivered.  Any one who observes and understands how the profile/voting system works on the Mars One website has seen some interesting activities this past week.  The application process is about to end and many are in a big hurry to get a high rating before it is too late.  There are other applicants who use Mr. Daniac's techniques  on a smaller scale.  He has been kept very busy but still has weathered the storm.  There are now many more applicants on the site who have had a brief moment of  high rating glory before being shot down by Willard.  The 45 year old ER Doctor responding below  was among  his latest victims!!  I am wondering where Willard's defenders will be when we never hear of his "infinite energy thing".  What is this area of "expertise" that two responders have now assumed he possesses?  Does anyone here know what my area is?

vereng evans
vereng evans

Mr. Wayne "Think before you speak" I felt bad for you as i have read your comment and post it twice. It seems you felt wrath on the top candidate Mr. Daniac. Be careful also on your accusations on what his invention is. Ms. Crowford is right what if he has already that invention and it will be a big help to Mars One Mission.A person cannot claim if his not ready and proud to the world his capabilities. In his line of expertise he knows what he talk about. It all depend on a person how they will describe their self, their knowledge that make other people worldwide who can watch that video interesting. That makes him the top candidate because on how he presented himself . The article is all about "Best Video Applications for One-Way Trip to Mars" Read between the lines  National Geo choosed their favorite videos who had the skills and the fortitude to go into space. Mars One committee will still decide who they will choose and pass the round one among thousand of candidates. Be respectful to National Geo your comment is destructive as they are reputable magazine.

Elias Montes de Oca
Elias Montes de Oca

If anyone says they're sarcastic, you shouldn't choose them because living with sarcasm is very annoying. How can you go day after day living with someone with sarcasm making jokes of what you say. Sarcasm makes you look stupid and nobody wants to seem stupid. Pick people who look easy to live with, but also helpful. 

Shiela crowford
Shiela crowford

As i read fully your comments here, i found that your heart filled with angry with the candidates, especially the top candidate. Why don't you give a chance of that guy to show what he got? You don't have to react the way like that because he have the invention he claim. What if you're wrong to your accusation? what if he really have it already? don't you think that it can even help you if he show it to the world? The Mars One will have the most authority to choose and to find the truth about the infinite energy he claim, and for sure they are all aware on this matter than you do. Your suggestions are good but better to keep your mouth shout because you almost disrespect not only the candidates but also the National Geographic as well. Its so simple, if the guy can't prove his claim when Mars One invite him to show what his claiming for, then he will automatically eliminated from the list of candidates, but if has it, then maybe they will accept the technology and use it for the mission instead of using the most difficult Power System like Small Nuclear reactor inside the Space Ship that can possibly harm astronauts inside the ship. There must be an advantage also if they really have that infinite energy thing. I also try to figure out your observation but i don't see any mistakes of him his views and popularity is gradually moving simultaneously too meaning its ok.  Beside look on his background, he study BS Electronics and he also a current employee of Qatar general electricity as high Voltage electrical Inspector, meaning he might know what he saying. So don't be judgemental person. What you are doing is freaking the people who can read your comments. You can't even prove your statement too. all informations he mentioned in his statement can be prove by a proper way, right? So you don't have to say many destructive words and don't be stupid. For sure Lansdorp is not poor minded, he will do action on this. there's i guess a lot of factors that this guy can do what's the thing are, because its his line of expertise. You're only annoying. Observe carefully next time ok?

Shiela crowford
Shiela crowford

Kevin, you maybe right but think about the total population globally, Where'll Billions of human on earth, While 15 Million votes doesn't show that the guy cheat us. beside its normal for every single of minutes almost every candidate will might receive votes, because everyone can vote around the world. I don't see any wrong doing those candidates did. Be positive, this is not a competition. Remember that.

kelvin wayne
kelvin wayne

I am an avid supporter of the Mars One program, and a reader of National Geographic.  I consider myself ineligible to apply due to age, but regularly view and vote on the applicants.  I wish Nat Geo would be more careful before posting information that might sway voters in this program.  There are lots of good, serious applicants for Mars One.  There is also a great deal of cheating going on.  The "most popular" candidate on the site is popular only to himself.  If you look at his stats you will see he has far more votes than views of his profile.  Like many others on the site he has found a way to cast vast numbers of votes for himself and even to cast negative votes for serious opponents (potential team mates).  I hope the decision makers for Mars One are aware of this issue and will not choose applicants that are involved in this sort of selfish activity.  If one keeps an eye on Mr. Willard's stats you will see a lot of very suspicious activity.  Just yesterday I was watching his profile stats (not for the first time)  when he obtained over 5,500 votes in a half hour.  During that time 12 more views were posted while his rating score changed from 4.63 to 4.631.  I estimate this happened around 2 or 3 am. his local time.  That may not seem like much of a rating change but one should consider he has somehow obtained over 15 million votes so far.  15 million votes is far more than anyone else has obtained and with numbers that high a rating changes VERY slowly.  One should also consider how his method could ruin the rating of an opponent with only hundreds or a few thousand votes in their column very quickly.  By casting vast numbers of  5 star votes to his name and large numbers of 1 star votes for his opponents he has dominated his field for some time.  I am not going to explain how this is done but will simply state it is not difficult to figure out.  Many others on the Mars One site are also using these methods.  There are applicants from other countries also using these methods to dominate their area of choice, while Mr. Willard has chosen to go global.  It is not difficult to find cheaters from India, Russia, the United States and other countries dominating their chosen area with varying degrees of success.  Many Mars One video applications are entertaining to watch.  One can have a lot of fun checking them out.  Many of the less entertaining videos are offered by some really good, serious applicants and should not be dismissed.  Beware that most of those "best" choices offered in this article are actually presented by cheaters and should be dismissed accordingly.  One candidate states he has invented some sort of "infinite energy".  Having a good scientific education will prevent you from falling for that hoax.

kelvin wayne
kelvin wayne

I am an avid supporter of the Mars One program, and a reader of National Geographic.  I consider myself ineligible to apply due to age, but regularly view and vote on the applicants.  I wish Nat Geo would be more careful before posting information that might sway voters in this program.  There are lots of good, serious applicants for Mars One.  There is also a great deal of cheating going on.  The "most popular" candidate on the site is popular only to himself.  If you look at his stats you will see he has far more votes than views of his profile.  Like many others on the site he has found a way to cast vast numbers of votes for himself and even to cast negative votes for serious opponents (potential team mates).  I hope the decision makers for Mars One are aware of this issue and will not choose applicants that are involved in this sort of selfish activity.  If one keeps an eye on Mr. Willard's stats you will see a lot of very suspicious activity.  Just yesterday I was watching his profile stats (not for the first time)  when he obtained over 5,500 votes in a half hour.  During that time 12 more views were posted while his rating score changed from 4.63 to 4.631.  I estimate this happened around 2 or 3 am. his local time.  That may not seem like much of a rating change but one should consider he has somehow obtained over 15 million votes so far.  15 million votes is far more than anyone else has obtained and with numbers that high a rating changes VERY slowly.  One should also consider how his method could ruin the rating of an opponent with only hundreds or a few thousand votes in their column very quickly.  By casting vast numbers of  5 star votes to his name and large numbers of 1 star votes for his opponents he has dominated his field for some time.  I am not going to explain how this is done but will simply state it is not difficult to figure out.  Many others on the Mars One site are also using these methods.  There are applicants from other countries also using these methods to dominate their area of choice, while Mr. Willard has chosen to go global.  It is not difficult to find cheaters from India, Russia, the United States and other countries dominating their chosen area with varying degrees of success.  Many Mars One video applications are entertaining to watch.  One can have a lot of fun checking them out.  Many of the less entertaining videos are offered by some really good, serious applicants and should not be dismissed.  Beware that most of those "best" choices offered in this article are actually presented by cheaters and should be dismissed accordingly.  One candidate states he has invented some sort of "infinite energy".  Having a good scientific education will prevent you from falling for that hoax.

Aine Celosia
Aine Celosia

Yes there is no reason not to take a stab at it.  Odds are against any individual at this point but I was suprised by the range of videos that were selected above as the favorites by National Geographic.  It probably doesn't mean too much in terms of Mars-One as they may have very different opinions and criteria but each video offers a unique perspective on what going to Mars means to people around the world and just how much we want and need new horizons.  This the first chance in a generation to truly explore so its worth taking a chance on.  

Sjouke Rinsma
Sjouke Rinsma

I don't mean to be a nitpick, but 6 billion minus 115.981 is actually 5.9999 billion, since it's billion, not million ;)

Roshdy Kh
Roshdy Kh

I love this and I want to participate in it

Gwendolyn Mugliston
Gwendolyn Mugliston

Too, too bad they don't need or want older people, grandm(fa)other types, who have vast experience, training, and heart to quell the troubled beasts and love them all....seriously, haven't any of these people read the Trilogy of Red, Green and Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson?  Perhaps Mars One is patterned after that series?  If anyone want to go to Mars they should read those books.  Suffused with physics and other sciences, full of heart and soul and wonderful unforgettable personalities, and written just the way I like a book written, give the books a try! You won't forget them and your quest for Mars will not be sated. 

kelvin wayne
kelvin wayne

@jayla melvin The current registration period which has ended required applicants to now be 18.  There are supposed to be more registration periods later.  You would best get your questions answered by going direct to the Mars one web site.

kelvin wayne
kelvin wayne

@Shiela crowford 

It seems you need to do more observing while thinking about what I have said.  How many other candidates are receiving over 10,000 votes per hour on the website while their profile is actually looked at less than 30 times?  Less than 30 times per hour is how often someone is actually looking at the profile they are voting on. Lansdorf will not even bother looking at his "infinite energy thing" because they do know better!  The candidate calls himself a joker.  It sounds like you have definitely been duped.

Leila Zucker
Leila Zucker

Hi @Gwendolyn Mugliston! There is no upper age limit. Quite a few applicants are over 40 and have excellent qualifications. I myself am an Emergency Medicine doctor, age 45. One of my favorite applicants is 70. If you'd like to see videos for some of the older applicants, go to the applicant page at mars-one.com and sort by any age range you like. I also enjoyed the Mars Trilogy.

vereng evans
vereng evans

@kelvin wayne @Shiela crowford

Mr. Wayne "Think before you speak" I felt bad for you as i have read your comment and post it twice. It seems you felt wrath on the top candidate Mr. Daniac. Be careful also on your accusations on what his invention is. Ms. Crowford is right what if he has already that invention and it will be a big help to Mars One Mission.A person cannot claim if his not ready and proud to the world his capabilities. In his line of expertise he knows what he talk about. It all depend on a person how they will describe their self, their knowledge that make other people worldwide who can watch that video interesting. That makes him the top candidate because on how he presented himself . The article is all about "Best Video Applications for One-Way Trip to Mars" Read between the lines  National Geo choosed their favorite videos who had the skills and the fortitude to go into space. Mars One committee will still decide who they will choose and pass the round one among thousand of candidates. Be respectful to National Geo your comment is destructive as they are reputable magazine.

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