There was once a time when every kid wanted to grow up to be an astronaut. But with Sputnik and Apollo now far behind us, it appears we've entered a new kind of space race: the race to become the first humans on Mars.
Thankfully, the folks over at NASA have wasted zero time reaching out to a future generation of Martian explorers. This week, the space agency released a delightful collection of high-resolution Mars Mission recruitment posters for any aspiring astronaut to pin up on their walls. The retro prints harken back to the Work Projects Administration (WPA) posters of the 1930s and 1940s, and were originally commissioned for an exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in 2009.
And since life on the Red Planet will require the expertise of more than just space navigators, NASA's posters also seek the assistance of intrepid farmers, explorers, teachers, and technicians.
"Night owls welcome!" says the advertisement for miners. "If you lived on Mars' moon Phobos, you'd have an office with a view, mining for resources with Mars in the night sky. Settlers below on Mars would see Phobos rise and set not once, but twice in one day!"
Umm, we're in.
"Imagination is so critical to creating a future you want to be part of. Many of the things we are doing today were imagined by artists and science fiction writers decades ago. These destinations are all actual places that we know about, and one day, perhaps humans can go to them in the future," JPL visual strategist Dan Goods told CNN.
While NASA's Uncle Sam posters might seem whimsical and even silly, the agency isn't kidding around when it says it needs you to become an astronaut. The acceptance rate of future space pioneers is a mere 0.13 percent, and out of 6,300 applications submitted in 2011, only eight men and women were selected in 2013.
Currently, NASA employs just one-third of the number of active astronauts it did at the apex of its space program in 2000. If there was ever a time to renew the excitement of traversing the interstellar frontier, it would be right now.
"That's how we approached these posters," added Goods. "To capture that charm, optimism and hopefulness, and this whole idea of wanting to go on these trips."