|Dr Joseph Roche, research projects coordinator at the Science Gallery in Dublin, talks to Smart Futures about him being short-listed for a one-way trip to Mars.
Describe your typical day?
There is no such thing as a typical day. It varies between science research, education and outreach, media work, and travelling. On an average day in the Science Gallery , I attend meetings about research projects, and give talks to students and tours of the exhibition. If I’m travelling I attend meetings, give talks and teach workshops.
What’s your favourite thing about your job?
The variety! It allows me to do so many things. Before I took this job, I was extremely close to becoming a management consultant. Luckily, this job in the Science Gallery came up and allowed me to do all the things that I wanted to do.
What are the main challenges?
A lot of my work is coordinating research projects that span several European countries. They are funded by the European Commission and require a lot of admin work.
What subjects did you take in school?
Towards the end of school I realised that physics was my favourite subject. At the last minute, instead of going into art, I went into science.
You’ve been shortlisted by Mars One to travel on a one-way trip to Mars.
Why do you want to go?
When I first heard about Mars One, I thought it was a ridiculous idea. It’s a not-for-profit organisation in the Netherlands trying to get into the field of space exploration, in particular exploring Mars. There’s a big obstacle to space exploration when it comes to Mars: the return trip. We know the technology exists, in theory, to put humans there but we haven’t figured out how we’d get someone back. Mars One removed that obstacle from the equation.
They looked for people who were willing to spend the rest of their life on Mars. For some people that seems like a difficult thing to do. However, for someone who has spent over a decade studying science and astrophysics, the opportunity to be the first interplanetary scientist is something that I wouldn’t be able to turn down.
What advice would you give to wannabe astronauts?
For years, the only way to become an Irish astronaut was to go through the European Space Agency (ESA) . When Mars One came along I had to apply. It seems I might have got on the shortlist due to my background in science so, my advice to anyone thinking of a career path like this, is to study science.