29/08/2012 16:49 BST | Updated 30/08/2012 08:26 BST

Mars Society UK Regroup To Discuss Plan For Human Life On The Red Planet

The red planet has long inspired science fiction movies and schoolboy dreams - but would you actually want to live in a pink and dusty desert on Mars?

But for members of the Mars Society UK, who held their annual meeting this week, their dream of colonising Mars is closer to becoming reality after the landing of Nasa's Curiosity Rover.

The group has recently relaunched, with a new committee and a Facebook and Twitter site, having been dormant for around a decade.

mars society

The logo of Mars Society UK, which is recruiting new members

The society's goal is to "further the exploration and settlement of the Red Planet" and invited members who can "promote the organisation's goal of a humans-to-Mars mission and to better educate the UK public on the importance of Mars exploration and eventual human settlement of the Red Planet."

Mars Society UK committee member Rob Astbury said they wanted to capitalise on the "fanfare" of the Mars Rover landing, to get more people involved in the society.

He told The Huffington Post UK: "I read Robert Zubrin's 'The Case For Mars' about how the planet could be settled. He heads the US chapter, which has around 3,000 members. I was inspired and I wanted to get involved in any way I could."

Astbury said the UK had around 100 members, with 25 people attending a one day conference at the National Space Centre in Leicester this weekend, looking at topics including "lobbying for space" and 'how do we make sure Britons get to Mars?"

Alan Bond from Oxford-based private aerospace company Reaction Engines led a session on "Project Troy", a plan for a mission to Mars, using economically sustainable space transportation.

President Graham Dale said the society was looking to recruit chapter officers and a new working constitution has been drafted.

The Mars Society UK is the oldest Mars Society outside of the United States; but there are branches of the society all over the world.


An image of life on Mars from Collier's magazine - a possible vision of the future?

The first Mars Society public meeting featured eminent astrophysicist Professor Colin Pillinger, who gave the first public announcement of the Beagle 2 project.

On its website, the society states its "main goal is the landing of astronauts on Mars, and the resulting establishment of a settlement on another planet.

"This is an activity that the Mars Society is actively planning for, using the Mars Analogue Research Stations, which are in the Canadian Arctic and the Utah desert.

"At these habitats, crews simulate the exploration of Mars, and in doing so they are helping to define the activities and procedures for when we actually reach the Red Planet.

"In the very long term, it may be possible to "Terraform" Mars. By increasing the atmospheric pressure and introducing oxygen, it will become possible for plants to grow and eventually for people to not require spacesuits.

As the process continues, water can exist on the surface, until we finally have a new world, with a land area equal to that of Earth!"

Astbury believes that if government investment was forthcoming, humans could be on Mars within a decade. "It would take ten years to develop the technology, we believe, if the government put as much energy into it as they did in the Apollo era.

"But realistically, we think it could happen in the next 20 to 30 years. The next few years will be very interesting because of the growth of private space travel.

"Hopefully some private companies will get a foothold in space, and won't have to rely on government."

Artists' impressions of life on Mars are posted on the website, not too dissimilar to the pictures commissioned by NASA, which asked artists Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick to imagine settlers on the Red Planet.