SCIENCE

Mars Colonization Poll Finds 7 Percent Would Volunteer For One-Way Mission To Red Planet

02/12/2013 05:40 pm ET | Updated Feb 13, 2013

If you were offered a one-way trip to Mars, without the possibility of a return to Earth, would you take it?

If so, you're in the minority. Only 7 percent of Americans say they would definitely take the opportunity to go on a one-way trip to a Mars colony, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. But most think it's unlikely such an opportunity will come within their lifetime.

According to the survey, 79 percent of Americans say it's either "not very" or "not at all" likely that there will be a human colony on Mars within their lifetime, while 11 percent said it was somewhat likely and 4 percent said it was very likely. Perhaps unsurprisingly, predictions on the likelihood of a Mars colony within the respondent's lifetime varied by age, from 24 percent of respondents aged 30 to 44 saying it was somewhat or very likely to only 1 percent of those 65 and older saying so. Twenty percent of the youngest respondents, from ages 18 to 29, said that it was somewhat or very likely that there would be a Mars colony within their lifetime.

Another recent survey, this one conducted by Phillips & Company for Explore Mars and Boeing, found that Americans are somewhat more optimistic about the possibility of a human at least setting foot on Mars within their lifetime. That poll found that 67 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, "I am confident humans will go to Mars in my lifetime."

If anyone ever does attempt to send a crew to start a colony on Mars, the HuffPost/YouGov survey finds that 7 percent of Americans say they would definitely want to be part of it, even if they couldn't return to Earth. Another 26 percent said they would consider it, and 56 percent said they would definitely not take the trip. The sure Mars volunteers were more likely to be male (11 percent) than female (4 percent). And respondents between ages 30 and 64 were more likely than either younger or older respondents to say that they would go.

At least one company wants to give a few of those volunteers a chance: Mars One, a nonprofit group based in the Netherlands, claims it is planning a Mars mission for 2023 and is seeking applicants, who will be selected by viewers of a reality TV show.

If humans ever do manage to colonize Mars, 46 percent of Americans say a colony there should be self-governing. Another 13 percent said a colony should be governed by the United Nations, 8 percent by the U.S. government, and 5 percent by a private company.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Feb. 7-8 among 1,000 U.S. adults. The poll used a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling.

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