Life Beyond - From Prison to Mars

Feedback on outreach activities is a great source of motivation for us. A participant in the Life Beyond project, which engages prisoners in the design of stations for the Moon and Mars, recently wrote feedback on his experience.

Participant Jamie, who is based at Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) Glenochil, sent a letter to the Sky at Night magazine which was published as Message of the Month.  He wrote:

At prisons the night heavens are masked by floodlights, and I haven’t seen stars in years. Yet I have recently been involved with a fascinating project which enlisted the unique experiences of prisoners to aid thinking on the best way to establish a base on Mars. 

Life Beyond is an initiative of the UK Centre for Astrobiology, taking astrobiology into the prison environment. The programme began in 2016, and in 2018 prisoners from HMP Glenochil and Edinburgh published their first book ‘Life Beyond: From Prison to Mars’ which described station designs for the surface of Mars.

The purpose of Life Beyond is to enrich the lives of those serving prison terms by providing an engaging opportunity to consider the future of humanity beyond the Earth, to contribute to the diversity of education on offer in prisons, and encourage prisoners to develop capacities in science education, creative writing, numeracy and literary skills.

Prof Charles Cockell, who led the project commented:

The exploration and settlement of space is one of the most exciting frontiers for humanity.  This project was a fascinating and rewarding experience for myself and colleagues, and I am pleased that Jamie found it to be of great benefit.  I hope the wider community also find benefit in this work.

Jamie also commented:

Even though the stars are cut off to me, I still watch The Sky at Night.  After all, I still have the Moon (sometimes).