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Mars colonizer more hopeful about mission with discovery of water

A Hamilton man campaigning for a trip to Mars is excited by NASA’s recent announcement that Mars appears to have flowing water.

Hamilton man is one of 100 fighting for one-way ticket to the red planet

Daniel Criger, a 28-year-old PhD student in physics and a candidate for Mars One's mission. (Mars One)

A Hamilton man campaigning for a trip to Mars is excited by NASA's recent announcement that the planet appears to have flowing water.

Daniel Benjamin Criger, one of 100 hopefuls vying for a spot in Dutch company Mars One's plan to colonize Mars by 2027, says he is now more hopeful for human life on the red planet.

Criger, 28, is a PhD candidate in physics at the University of Waterloo. His research "focuses on quantum error correction, but my real passion is colonizing Mars," according to his Mars One bio.

And the prospect of colonizing Mars, with the recent discovery that the planet has seasonal flows of salty, sludgy water, seems a whole lot brighter for Criger and the rest of the Mars One candidates.

The president of Canadian Space Society, Marc Fricker, agrees with the significance of the discovery. He said the prospect of water on Mars will make it easier for settlers.

"It's going to be a good thing obviously, with liquid water there it's going to be a lot easier to get access to it and a lot easier to do stuff with than if it's just a big frozen ice ball underneath the North Pole," Fricker said in an interview with the Canadian Press.

"I see (the discovery of water) as being substantial ... We're not alone," he said. "Ok, we may be just sharing the galaxy with little microscopic bugs, but at least we're not alone."

The Mars One mission began its search for astronaut candidates back in April 2013. They received thousands of initial entries, and plan to whittle that number down to four in time for the 2026 launch. Those four will have a one-way ticket to Mars, travelling for about seven months before touching down millions of kilometres from earth.

Criger is hoping to be one of those four.

He's currently studying in Germany and will complete his classes next September "right in time to be selected to be in the final 24," he told the Canadian Press. There's currently six Canadians remaining in the group of 100 candidates,

Criger had a chance to read Andy Weir's "The Martian," a novel about an astronaut left to fend for himself on Mars, and the basis for the Matt Damon blockbuster film. Criger said he was inspired by the way the main character was able to improvise in order to survive.

"There's a lot that human engineering can do that can't be done otherwise with the equipment that's on Mars," he said.

Criger also compared himself to the novel's character.

"I like to be surrounded by technology, I like to work on little problems and see if I can improve things," he said.

"There are a lot of things I'd like to do once we get there," he said in his video profile for Mars One. "Build space elevators, cannons to launch things into orbit. But mostly, I'm just a space cadet." 

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