A WOULD-BE astronaut from North Yorkshire is aiming to fly to Mars – on a one-way trip.

Gillian Finnerty, 21, from Tholthorpe, near Easingwold, is one of more than 265,000 people from around the world who originally applied to go on the Mars One mission, set up in 2011 by two Dutch men with the goal of establishing permanent human life on the red planet by 2025.

Gillian, a former Easingwold School pupil, was among the 1,058 who made it through to round two, and then became one of only 40 from the UK who have got through to the next round of the selection process to pick 24 people from around the world to go on the voyage to the Red Planet.

She said she would undergo various medical tests and interviews this year to help determine whether she was suitable.

Gillian, who is studying for a Masters degree in physics and astrophysics at the University of Sheffield, said she wanted to spend her life attempting to further scientific knowledge and human exploration.

“I have been working towards becoming an astronaut for the last five years,” she said.

“I hope to achieve something historically significant in my lifetime; being a part of this mission is the most important and significant thing I could ever do with my life.”

Gillian said the nature of space travel was such that a return to earth after the seven-month journey to Mars would be logistically impossible.

Asked about her parents’ reaction to the possibility they might never see her again, she said: “They’re not very pleased.”

Gillian said she would keep in contact with people back on earth through video messages.

She was worried about the future of life here on Earth. “Things need to change quickly and drastically if we want to keep living like this,” she said.

“Hopefully the Mars One habitat and crew will inspire people on Earth to use sustainable energy and grow their own food, which would help reverse anthropogenic climate change.”