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PhD student may be Mars bound

Possible Mars mission for Manchester postgraduate

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A Life Sciences postgraduate student has been named as a possible candidate for the first manned-mission to Mars.

Danielle Potter is one of the 1058 candidates currently being considered for the mission.

Potter, who is currently undertaking a PhD at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, said: “I never thought going to space would be within my grasp, but it would be great to do research there and look at something no one has ever seen before. My PhD has given me the skills to think outside the box and look at how to go about analysing data found on Mars.”

She found out about the mission on the same day as the deadline, but decided to sign up straight away.  She was one of the initial  202,000 applicants for the Mars One project, which is aimed at establishing permanent human inhabitation on the planet by 2025.

The next stage is aimed at shortlisting the number of candidates down to 24.  Astronauts will then be put through eight years of training before departure.

Potter added, “ If I’m successful in getting into the next round I’ll get to train with some of the best of the best in the space industry and get a lot of experience with training in the Arctic Circle. With my scientific research background, I’d be trained to look for possible extra-terrestrial life on the planet.”

The Mars One Project is described by its Dutch founders as  being the “stepping stone of the human race on its voyage into the universe.”

The mission is due to last between seven to eight months.  A group of four astronauts is due to land first and prepare the living areas.  The second crew will arrive once preparations have been complete.

Potter aims to complete her PhD before the training schedule begins.