What Skills were Needed at Jamestown; are required for Mars?

This past week my favorite morning radio program reported that a woman from Illinois was selected as one of the 1,058 finalists who will be narrowed down to the “lucky” 4 to be chosen to go to Mars in 2024. What is next for this potential Martian colonist? Norbert Kraft, chief medical officer of Mars One, states that the training for these applicants “will include rigorous simulations, many in team settings, with focus on testing the physical and emotional capabilities of our remaining candidates.”It will be interesting to have someone relatively close to Wisconsin to follow through this process.

The Jamestown Cooper was a Busy Guy. (Painting by Sidney E. King.)

The Jamestown Cooper was a Busy Guy. (Painting by Sidney E. King.)

The radio show hosts at first seemed to mock the potential for this type of mission but then made the connection to American colonization. One Dj said, “The rickety old ship that English colonists took to Virginia was probably the equivalent of a space ship to Mars today.” Another insisted that plucking people out of Illinois or anywhere else and sending them to Mars is crazy and that sustained human life can not be successful when attempted by “ordinary people.” I have yet to research it, but I wonder if one could find this type of discussion in European newspapers regarding the potential for New World colonization near the end of the 16th century? Of course, the Virginia Company did not just send anybody over to Jamestown but rather were very deliberate in their efforts to obtain what skills the colony required (See attached list). Even with this foresight, the initial waves of settlement did not obtain success. I look forward to the training these potential Martians will have to undergo in the years ahead.

What skills do you think will be essential for humans to have on Mars? How will they compare to those skills needed during the New World’s settlement? 

For our part, this week my US History class is sending a class portrait into space to get a “Selfie taken with Mars as the backdrop. It will not be taken until 2019 but if it occurs, I think it will be worth the wait.

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