08/05/2013 05:18 BST | Updated 08/05/2013 07:30 BST

Mars One: Applications For One-Way Mission To Red Planet Exceed 78,000

It could be the economy, or the looming threat of climate change, but it appears quite a large number of people are prepared to give up the trappings of life on Earth and take a one-way trip to Mars.

The Mars One project is seeking to "establish a permanent settlement" on the red planet in 2023 - and after just a few days has already had 78,000 applications.

Four (un)lucky winners will form the vanguard of the human colonisation of the relatively inhospitable planet.

mars one

What the planned colony will look like

Mars One CEO and co-founder Bas Lansdorp said in a statement: "With 78,000 applications in two weeks, this is turning out to be the most desired job in history."

"These numbers put us right on track for our goal of half a million applicants."

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The application process invites astro-hopefuls to submit a video online which can be viewed and rated on the Mars One website. If it sounds like reality TV, that's no mistake - the mission intends to fund itself with a global, televised media circus.

So far 21-year-old Arteum from Russia is leading the way with a pretty respectable 4.9 stars out of 5.

Quite how the the winners will get to Mars remains tantalisingly vague - and with only $84,121 raised in donations so far the mission is a long way off.

And with the likes of Nasa not convinced a Mars mission is possible with the current state of tech (and funding), we might be waiting a while.