An interplanetary trip to Mars could take as little as 10 months, but returning would be virtually impossible -- making the voyage a form of self-imposed exile from Earth unlike anything else in human history.
What would inspire someone to volunteer? We've just found out.
A special edition of the Journal of Cosmology details exactly how a privately-funded, one-way mission to Mars could depart as soon as 20 years from now -- and it prompted more than 400 readers to volunteer as colonists.
"I've had a deep desire to explore the universe ever since I was a child and understood what a rocket was," Peter Greaves told FoxNews.com. Greaves is the father of three, and a jack-of-all-trades who started his own motorcycle dispatch company and fixes computers and engines on the side.
"I envision life on Mars to be stunning, frightening, lonely, quite cramped and busy," he told FoxNews.com. "Unlike Earth I wouldn't be able to sit by a stream or take in the view of nature's wonder, or hug a friend, or breath deeply the sweet smell of fresh air -- but my experience would be so different from all 6 to 7 billion human beings ... that in itself would make up for the things I left behind."
The psychological effect of space travel
Other volunteers include a 69-year old computer programmer, a college student at Texas A&M, and a 45-year-old nurse. Reverend Paul Gregersen, pastor of the Clarno Zion United Methodist Church, also said he would be willing to travel off-planet -- permanently.
"As the human race continues to expand, it only make sense to explore opportunities for human life out in the cosmos," Gregersen told FoxNews.com. "Also, I have the feeling that spiritual issues would come up among the crew. The early explorers on Earth always took clergy with them."
But more than spiritual issues will arise, warn psychologists who have worked with NASA.
"It's going to be a very long period of isolation and confinement," said Albert Harrison, who has studied astronaut psychology since the 1970s as a professor of psychology at UC Davis. He also warned that life on Mars wouldn't be as romantic as it sounded.
"After the excitement of blast-off, and after the initial landing on Mars, it will be very difficult to avoid depression. After all, one is breaking one’s connections with family, friends, and all things familiar," he told FoxNews.com.
Read the entire article: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/01/10/space-volunteer-way-mission-mars/