Zac Trolley will be spending the next two weeks cooped up with five people he’s never met before, confined to space suits and recycling their own waste water. It’s not everyone’s idea of a great time.
“I have heard stories of people being there for a day or two and then packing their bags and walking away from camp because they’ve had enough. It is one of those tests where you really find out if you were able to do it or not,” said Trolley from his downtown Calgary office.
The 35-year-old electrical engineer has been chosen to take part in a two-week simulation at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah.
The station was set up in 2001 by the Mars Society to educate researchers and the public about how humans can survive on the Red Planet.
Trolley was first launched into the public spotlight four years ago when he made the shortlist of people bound for the Mars One Voyage, which involved a one-way ticket to colonize Mars by 2024.
Trolley didn’t make the final list of candidates. However, instead of being discouraged, he has been taking his passion and knowledge to local schools and to the Telus Spark Science Centre, talking to young people about the value of space exploration.
“Getting people to Mars is the most amazing thing we can do as a species.
“That will be what resonates for the next 1,000 years. That will be the stepping stone to the stars,” Trolley said.
Living in the simulated environment in the Utah desert will be a personal test for Trolley, as well as providing information to Mars researchers.
“I will be walking into a simulation with five other people I’ve never met before.
“They will be locking the door for two weeks so we will see how that goes and what interpersonal issues arise,” Trolley said.
As for people who wonder why he would want to leave our perfectly good planet to settle on Mars never to return, Trolley says it’s all about pushing boundaries.
“The common thought pattern is that the earth was built for human life and we live just fine. And all this technology we need to live on Mars, if it fails, we all die. The same is true for Calgary. If we didn’t have technology in Calgary, we would not survive the winter,” Trolley said.
“We could find out something around the corner that we had no idea existed and we won’t know until we start looking.”
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