How many people would be willing to travel millions of miles in a fetid, stinking can just to die on an arid, toxic dust planet from radiation poisoning, starvation, or both?
More than 100,000 people, apparently.
The Mars One project is an ambitious plan - generally regarded as terminally implausible - to send humans to the red planet by 2022. The success of the venture relies on solving a vast range of problems - both financial (the first mission has an estimated cost of $6 billion) and technical. It's not known how humans could get to Mars without incurring huge doses of radiation, for instance, or how they would be able to survive for more than a short time on the surface without a proven means to grow food or a local water supply.
But that hasn't stopped Bas Lansdorp, Mars One CEO and co-founder, from publicising the attempt - or, as it turns out, 100,000 people applying to take part.
Above: The Mars One colony (concept image)
Lansdorp told CNN in an interview that more than that number have begun profiles, and the number of total applicants could rise much higher.
It's an impressive figure - all the more because it's not free to apply.
For an American to sign up to Mars One, complete their profile and submit the application it costs $38. The price is lower for other nationalities, based on GDP. Applicants are selected on a range of criteria, and the public are currently able to vote for their favourites. The most popular currently is this man from the Philippines.
Mars One wants to select its team of 40 applicants by the end of 2013. It will then whittle them down to a team of two men and two women, who after eight years of training, which involves learning how to survive in their habitats and grow vegetables, would in theory leave Earth forever in September 2022, arriving on Mars in April 2023.
Funding depending, more missions would follow the initial pioneers, with the aim of sending about 44,000 pounds of useful cargo and people in eight separate trips.
If it sounds like your thing, you can still apply via the Mars One website. Head to CNN for the full story.Suggest a correction