DIANNE McGrath has achieved much in her time on this earth.

The Melburnian is in the process of adding a research master of engineering from RMIT University to her university degrees and can boast having numerous marathons, half marathons and an ultra marathon under her belt.

But Ms McGrath is yet to fulfil her biggest dream - bounding about in a space suit on the red planet.

There were stars in the eyes of Nambour Christian College students captivated by Ms McGrath's presentation on the Mars One project.

Her nephew Joshua McGrath is a Year 6 student at the school.

Ms McGrath is one of just seven Australians, and the only Victorian, remaining in the global pool of candidates for the Mars One project, which aims to establish the first permanent human settlement on Mars.

More than 202,585 people applied for just four positions on the first fleet.

The successful candidates will survive in a purpose-built pod with three square kilometres of solar panels to generate power, a hydroponics system to grow food and a 3D printer to generate spare equipment parts.


The rest of us on earth can dial into a Mars One satellite channel to watch their progress.

But the adventure of a lifetime has a huge catch - it comes with a one-way ticket.

Ms McGrath said although the technology existed to get them to Mars, it was not yet advanced enough to bring them home.

"I am not afraid of living on Mars," she told the students.

"The only thing I am afraid of is what if I don't get the chance to do everything I wanted to do?"

Ms McGrath encouraged the students to dream big and never exclude any possibilities for their futures.

"I never thought that I could be an astronaut as there is no program in Australia, but here I am," she told them.

"We are hoping this mission will spark that again - who knows what we are capable of if more people put their minds towards science?"

Ms McGrath said she hoped to inspire students to consider a career in the sciences.

"I want them to know that science can be cool," she said.

The students were in awe of what they had heard and dozens of hands shot up during question time.

The message definitely resonated with Year 6 student Nathaniel Rogers, who said the presentation was "really cool".


Mars One timeline

  • 22 April, 2013: Mars One started its search for the first humans to live on Mars
  • 16 February, 2015: only 100 astronaut candidates remain world wide
  • 2016: Final four astronauts selected and commence 10-year training program
  • 2025: Mars outpost set up
  • 2026: First crew departs for Mars
  • 2027: Crew arrives in Mars and begin setting up a new civilisation

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