1. The Mars One mission is to build a human settlement on Mars.
The Dutch not-for-profit foundation's blueprints, simplified: Select a crew by 2015 and train them until the first crew launch in 2024.
In the meantime, the nuts and bolts of the settlement will be shipped over, and a rover will set up the supplies before humans arrive.
2. After over 200,000 applicants, Lt. Heidi Beemer, 25, is one of 705 candidates left.
3. The biggest question: Why?
While the Curiosity rover putters around Mars to find evidence of life, Beemer's motivation is similar: exploration.
Her heart was set on an interplanetary visit since the fateful day her dad showed her a newspaper with a panorama from the Mars Pathfinder's voyage. Since then she's collected backgrounds in chemistry and geology — and leadership experience being an officer in the army, like at Utah's Mars Desert Research Station above — and has conquered every outdoors activity under the sun.
That is, on Earth. "My reasons for going to Mars are very scientific. We have a lot of questions that we can’t really answer by just sending robots to Mars."
4. The trip is arduous.
The trek is around seven months with only freeze-dried or packaged food, similar to these packets used aboard shuttles.
Instead of showers, the astronauts will use wet towelettes. The noise from the machinery will be constant, and there will be three-hour daily workouts to preserve muscle mass.
5. It also means saying good-bye to your friends, family, and Earth.
6. There's no flight home.
7. But there are organizations working on getting the technology to do it.
8. The flight also includes the looming threat of radiation.
Harmful radiation can't reach us because of the Earth's atmosphere, but in space, the crew would have to huddle in an even smaller sheltered area of the rocket. A return trip would increase your chances of a dose, says Beemer, and that risk is something the organization is taking seriously.