Ryan MacDonald is a theoretical astrophysicist, a science communicator, and one of the final 100 astronaut candidates for Mars One’s proposed 2027 mission to the Red Planet.
After completing a master’s degree in physics at Oxford University, Ryan joined the exoplanet research group at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy. His current PhD research focuses on deducing the physical conditions and chemical compositions present on planets orbiting other stars, with the long-term goal of assisting the search for life elsewhere in the universe.
In 2013, the Dutch organization Mars One opened a global Astronaut Selection Programme, with Ryan one of the first to sign up. In the years since, the initial 202,586 people who expressed interest in the program have been whittled down to just 100 – of which Ryan is one of four representing the UK. In 2017, he will spend two weeks isolated in a simulation Mars habitat to decide if he will become one of the twenty-four candidates accepted to train as astronauts for the mission.
Ryan’s previous research has included thermal-infrared instrument design for a proposed European Space Agency (ESA) sample return mission to the moons of Mars, as well as carrying out data analysis from ESA’s Venus Express Orbiter.
Ryan believes passionately in the inspirational potential of human spaceflight and seeks to demonstrate first-hand how far science can take a person. More than anything, he strives to show young people that if they dare to believe in their dreams, then even the stars themselves are within their reach.
Ten Things I Can’t Do Without
- An oxygenated atmosphere
- Temperatures around 290K
- Atmospheric pressures around 100 kPa
- A source of water
- Scientific discussion
- A creative imagination
- Computing technology
- Optimism for the future