A private company that hopes to colonize another planet found no shortage of applicants for its planned one-way trip to Mars.
On Tuesday, Mars One said that 200,000 people around the world have applied to make the journey to the Red Planet, which could happen as early as 2025 — if the company’s plans succeed. Only four will ultimately be chosen for the historic trip, CNN notes.
Once they get to Mars, the astronauts will have to stay there. The Netherlands-based company is planning to permanently settle the as-far-as-we-know unoccupied world. More critically, a return voyage is both financially and technologically infeasible.
Before people cross the millions of miles that separate Earth and Mars, the company hopes to send a robotic probe there first. That could launch in 2018.
Though a century ago, some astronomers thought that Mars had a climate similar to Earth — and might even harbor a civilization of canal-building aliens — probes that have landed on the fourth planet over the past several decades have discovered a dry, cold world with a very thin atmosphere and no signs of life.
Hope remains that the planet’s surface once held liquid water and that enough of that remains frozen at the poles to support at least a small human settlement.