Sonia Van Meter is many things: a political consultant, a wife, a step-mother ... and a potential resident of Mars. Yes, you read that right.
Mars One, a privately funded organization based in the Netherlands, hopes to establish a permanent human colony on Mars within the next 10 years. And on Monday, the organization announced the 100 finalists for its first mission. Van Meter, an Austinite until just recently, is one of them.
"If we can look up from Earth and know that human beings are living on another planet, will we ever again be able to tell ourselves that there is anything we can't do?" Van Meter asks in her original audition tape for the Mars One mission.
If chosen, Van Meter will have to leave her director's position at Austin-based Stanford Caskey, her family and her home planet for good. The potential colony will be a permanent one, meaning the Mars One crew will not be returning to Earth.
There are still a few obstacles that Van Meter must face before she can call Mars her new home. Dubbed the "Mars 100," Van Meter and the rest of the finalists will take on a series of team-building tests and simulations, all of which will be the focus of a reality series.
In a moving column in Texas Monthly, Van Meter's husband Jason Stanford discusses the potential voyage, and the loss of his wife.
"I will mourn her a million times before she dies. I will not like any of this, but I love her, and this is a horizon worth crossing," Stanford writes. "Like those astronaut wives before me, I will man up."
Stanford points out that Van Meter's passion for the mission and the inspiration she draws from our planetary neighbor is what makes the difficulty worth it. "Space exploration inspires me, not just because of what we find out there, but what we discover about ourselves in the process," says Van Meter in her audition tape.
For Van Meter, the opportunity is all about the journey. "If we can look up from Earth and know that human beings are living on another planet, will we ever again be able to tell ourselves that there is anything we can't do?"
Uncertainties still face the Mars One mission. The foundation must raise enough money to fund the project, in addition to building a spaceship. Watch the trailer for the Mars One reality series below.