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WHILE some of us find the idea of a visit outside the confines of Helsinki’s Kehä 1 intimidating, apparently a trip to Mars is not out of the question for a sizeable chunk of the world’s population.

Recent news has it that Dutch engineer and entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp seeks to establish a permanent base on Mars. Fair enough. Hoping to scrape together the necessary 6 billion US dollars, he proposes that this mission take off in 2022.

In the meantime, more than 200,000 people from 140 countries have applied to go to Mars and never return, says the group behind an ambitious venture to colonise the inhospitable red planet. 25 per cent of the applicants for the one-way trip are Americans, ten per cent Indian, 6 per cent Chinese and 5 per cent Brazilian.By 2015, the non-profit organisation Mars One hopes to put up to 10 four-member teams through intensive training. The first of those teams are projected to reach Mars in 2023, taking seven months to complete the high-risk journey. Sound enticing?

However, the worst of their woes may be to come – unless you’ve grown up in Lapland, that is – with daily temperatures of minus 55 degrees commonplace. Alongside enduring a desert-like atmosphere that consists predominantly of carbon dioxide, the participants will also have their lives beamed back to Mother Earth as stars of a reality TV show.

While space agencies, including NASA, have expressed skepticism about the viability of Lansdorp’s plan, Mars One maintains that the mission is all systems go. The lion’s share of funding for the project is expected to be ponied-up by the global audience of an interactive, televised broadcast that captures every aspect of the mission. Yep, not only has Big Brother well and truly gone global, it’s time to get intergalactic.

Furthermore, just in case the forthcoming Star Wars sequels aren’t about to satiate your need for space adventures, British entrepreneur and Virgin head Richard Branson has also been making similar noises about establishing a colony on Mars for some time now. Having successfully launched his commercial airline, it’s soon time for commercial space travel to take flight. Have a lazy 200,000 US dollars in your back pocket? Then next year you can enjoy a two-hour trip beyond the pesky confines of Earth.

Fancy signing up to be a part of the Mars colony yourself? Check out:

http://applicants.mars-one.com/

James O’Sullivan