Alyssa Carson: 18-Year-Old Astronaut-in-Training Would 'Consider' Permanently Relocating to Mars

Alyssa Carson has dreamt of going to Mars since she was three—and has been planning the occasion almost as long. And while the idea of permanently living on the Red Planet wouldn't be her first option, she says she would "consider" it.

This week, Carson sat down with Stylist Magazine to discuss what life would be like in space, from the food (no bread) to the communication (Mars has WiFi) to the toilet arrangement (separate arrangements for number ones and number twos)—as well as the prospect of being the very first person to touch foot on Mars.

"It fascinates me—it's the next planet in the solar system that we really have the technology to be able to travel to," Carson told Stylist. "I would love to be one of the first scientists to look for signs of exterior life and study the atmosphere and soil to really see what we can do with Mars."

The process of getting to Mars would take six months (give or take, depending on the orbit) and when the team reach their destination they plan to remain there for approximately 20 months, said Carson.

Alyssa Carson
Alyssa Carson (R), an aspiring astronaut preparing for an eventual manned mission to Mars, talks to President of Chile Sebastián Piñera during a meeting at the Palacio de La Moneda on December 07, 2018 in Santiago, Chile. Sebastian Vivallo Oñate/Agencia Makro/Getty

Carson, 18, has been prepping for the journey for a long time. Born in Louisiana, she told The Design Museum in London her best guess is her curiosity around Mars was sparked by the cartoon 'The Backyardigans'. Since then, she has attended 19 space camps, become the only person to complete the NASA Passport program and given three TEDx Talks—her first when she was only 13, Forbes reports.

Aged 12, she was invited to take part in NASA's MER (Mars Exploration Rovers) 10 panel to celebrate 10 years of roving on Mars. Aged 15, she became the youngest person accepted onto the Advanced PoSSUM Space Academy. She is now one of the world's youngest astronaut-in-training and could be one of the first people on Mars in the early 2030s.

When she gets to Mars, Carson's main job would involve gathering and analyzing samples to take to Earth.

The prospect of reaching Mars is "amazing," says Carson. But would she settle their permanently? "I would consider it if it was the only option," she said. "However, I think that the first missions will want to bring back soil and rocks for further experimenting."

Carson also discussed the challenges of working in a male-dominated industry the week the first female-female spacewalk is scheduled to take place. The walk is due to happen on Friday, more than fifty years after the first spacewalk—and months after it had to be cancelled due to an unfortunate mix-up involving spacesuits.

Carson told Stylist that while there has been a gender problem historically, the selection process is now split equally between men and women and it is "awesome to see more female astronauts coming into the space program."

"But there are tens of thousands of people that work hard on a mission, from the engineers and the rocket testers, to the people that put the food together," she added. "We need to get more women working across all of those fields, in all sorts of STEM careers."

Correction 10/21 4:04 a.m. The headline of this article has been corrected as Carson has no formal affiliation with NASA. The article has also been updated to say she is one of the world's youngest astronauts in training, rather than the youngest.