News.com wrote:* Space program looking for volunteers
* Program aimed at settling other worlds
* Astronauts would not be brought home
IT'S the biggest dead-end job ever.
NASA is looking for volunteers to fly to Mars - the snag is that you won't come back.
It is actively investigating the possibility of humans colonising worlds such as the Red Planet.
The settlers would be sent supplies from Earth but would go on the understanding that it would be too costly to bring them home.
NASA revealed that it had already received more than $1 million to commence work on the project at its Ames Research Centre in California.
Centre director Pete Worden, who claimed humans could be living on Mars by 2030 despite the inhospitable conditions, said: "The human space program is now aimed at settling other worlds.
"Twenty years ago you had to whisper that in dark bars or get fired."
Mr Worden told a conference in San Francisco that he had discussed with Google co-founder Larry Page the potential for one-way trips to Mars.
Scientists say much of the cost of such a mission is associated with bringing the astronauts home - the price of sending 20 Mars settlers with a one-way ticket would be equal to bringing four astronauts back.
Experts say a nuclear-fuelled rocket could make the journey in four months.
Of all the planets in the solar system, Mars is the most likely to have substantial quantities of water, making it the best bet for sustaining life.
But it is a forbidding place to set up home. Temperatures plummet way below freezing in some parts.
The thin atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide, so oxygen supplies are a must.
Mr Worden suggested that new technologies, such as synthetic biology and alterations to the human genome, could be explored ahead of the mission.
Writing in the Journal of Cosmology, scientists Dirk Schulze-Makuch and Paul Davies envisaged sending four volunteer astronauts on the first mission to colonise Mars.
A one-way human mission to Mars would not be a fixed-duration project as in the Apollo program, but the first step in establishing a permanent human presence on the planet, they said.
Dammit...don't know what to say...but are they serious? How are they going to settle on a planet with so much Carbon Dioxide and limited oxygen?