Grad student Elena Finley finalist for Mars One project

Geology and geological engineering graduate student Elena Finley is one of 1,058 applicants still in the running for the Mars One project. The project aims to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars. Crews of four will depart every two years, starting in 2024.

More than 200,000 people applied throughout the world in the summer of 2013 for their one-way ticket to the red planet. Finley thought it might be a joke when she first received the email saying she made it through the first round.

“I thought, oh gosh, I’ve been scammed!” Finley said. “Then I went to the website and saw they were contacting finalists and knew it was real.”

Finley said leaving her friends and family would be difficult, but this project would be an “opportunity of a lifetime.”

“We’d be like the pilgrims coming to America, discovering it for the first time,” Finley said. “Even if it doesn’t work out, it would pave the way for future generations.”

Finley’s parents have been her inspiration for the mission as they are both geologists and her mom wanted to be an astronaut when she was younger. Finley is passionate about astronomy, space and geology, suggesting the latter may give her an edge over some of the other candidates.

“If I go there, I would like to be a planetary geologist,” Finley said. “I think that’s an advantage. I imagine most of the work I would do would be research oriented.”

The next stage of the process for finalists will include a physical assessment, interview and challenges that simulate life on Mars. Mars residents will be filmed for a reality-TV show, which is intended to provide most of the funds to finance the expedition.

“I am not one for being in the spotlight. For this it would be worth it.” Finley said. “I would do whatever it takes.”

As a graduate student, Finley is working with geology and geological engineering professor Dr. Steve Sonneberg on studying 3D seismic characterization of the Niobrara Formation, Permian salt and Precambrian basement in Silo Field in Laramie County, Wyoming.

You can view Finley’s Mars One profile here and watch her application video below.



Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 /

Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 /

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