By Dr. Alexander Kumar, BBC News, 09.21.12
In the first installment of a two-part feature, Dr Alexander Kumar - who has been overwintering at Concordia Station, Antarctica - examines what it would take to send humans to Mars, and what lessons we can learn from similar environments on Earth.
Just how far are we from mounting a crewed mission to the Red Planet?
It's a question I ponder as I stare into a powerful telescope and see a reddish hue in the surrounding darkness.
I have been overwintering at the French-Italian outpost of Concordia station in Antarctica, which is also used to study how humans might one day survive a trip to the Red Planet.
My eyes begin to freeze and my eyelashes become matted together with ice. I dig my hands deeper, further into my pockets seeking warmth.
It strikes me that it's a good metaphor for the astronomical amounts of money that would be required to finance the planning and preparation of such a mission. And that is only the first of many difficult challenges.
I bounce back across the plateau towards the station - my home from home - and look at my thermometer. The outside temperature has fallen below -75C (-99.9C wind chill, the extreme limit of its scale) again.
To read the full article (part 1), please click here.