From 202,586 hopefuls, to the 100 would-be astronauts. An astrophysics student studying for a PhD in The School of Physics and Astronomy at Birmingham was named on the shortlist of candidates selected to set up the first human colony on Mars. Maggie writes a few words below:

Maggie Lieu

My name is Maggie Lieu and I am an Astrophysics PhD student at the University of Birmingham. I am currently researching galaxy clusters - the cosmic giants of the universe. The smallest of these objects can be ten thousand, trillion metres in size. I¹ve always been fascinated about space and how big it is and that¹s why I signed up for a one-way trip to Mars.

The distance to Mars is a hundred billion times smaller than a galaxy cluster so it's astonishing to think that humans haven't been there yet. I am now down to the last 100 candidates to go to Mars in 2024. The experience from my PhD has helped me get this far and will help me prepare for the challenges ahead.