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Mission To Mars: Would You Sign Up For A One-Way Ticket? (VIDEO)

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Hey everybody, Cara Santa Maria here.

Right now is a pretty incredible time to be alive. We live in an era when science fiction is becoming science fact, all around us, right before our eyes. And with the spirit of discovery, innovation, and progress, we have turned our sights upward--outward, and we see Mars.

We've successfully combed the surface of Mars, uncovering the mystery of its dusty landscape with the aid of robotic eyes and hands. Four unmanned rovers have gone to Mars. The most recent, Curiosity, blasted off from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011. It will travel 352 million miles before it finds the red planet, later this year.

We live on a fragile planet at a fragile time. We cannot discount the possibility of colonizing new worlds. And where better to go than Mars?

It would take around seven months to fly there, and that's if the intense cosmic radiation, freezing temperatures, and low gravity environment doesn't kill us first. Also, let's not rule out death by asteroid or some other interplanetary space projectile.

And come on, can human beings really withstand the intense psychological pressures of lonely, faraway travel to an isolated rock? Recently, six men completed the Mars 500 project proving that it is possible to live together, in cramped quarters, without losing your mind.

And if you can't empathize with anyone who would volunteer to live in a tiny windowless isolation facility for 17 months straight, can you believe that more than 500 people have already volunteered for a Mars to Stay mission? Yes, that is exactly what it sounds like: a one-way ticket to Mars.

See, the Journal of Cosmology says that we could be on our way to Mars in as little as 20 years. But skeptics say that the journey is too complex, too expensive, and of course, way too dangerous. Well, apparently, it's the return trip that's mucking up our plans. And if we take that out of the equation, the trip starts to look like it may actually be within our reach. But is this even remotely ethical? Would the Mars-To-Stayers be embarking on a suicide mission? Its advocates say no. They would be explorers, pioneers.

And today, we are closer than ever before to looking back over our shoulders and seeing that dot--that pale blue dot--that you and I call home, for what it is in the grand cosmic perspective, a speck of dust on the brilliant and expansive ocean of interplanetary space. This could happen within our lifetimes. And for those courageous souls, it would be the most incredible journey anyone has ever embarked upon.

Could you brave the impossible isolation of living on an alien planet? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Reach out to me on Twitter, Facebook, or leave your comments right here on the Huffington Post. Come on, Talk Nerdy To Me.

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