"Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying." - Arthur C. Clarke What do you think is out there? Do you believe that we'll ever find proof of alien life? Do you think WE are the alien life, sent to this planet? Or do you believe we are alone, and exist purely by chance? Us nosey humans have been exploring space one way or another for a while now, but we haven't gotten very far compared to the actual size of the universe, or even the galaxy, or even the solar system in which we live in. Our next target, which we seem to have the technical capacity of reaching, is Mars. As you probably know we already have a few rovers on the surface of Mars, collecting data, and trying not to get stuck in the sand like that other muppet-rover did. If you're curious, below you'll find examples of the leading manned Mars missions scheduled for the very near future. Mars One From April to August 2013 anyone over the age of 18 was eligible to apply to be an astronaut on the Mars One mission by applying online. Applicants will be narrowed down by a series of interviews and tests until, in July 2015, 6 teams of 4 will be chosen for the mission. In 2017 an unmanned lander will be sent to Mars, arriving in 2018. If things go according to their April 2013 schedule the first team of 4 astronauts will be sent on a 7 month long journey to arrive on Mars in 2025, with the remaining teams arriving every 2 years, with a total of 24 people living and working on Mars by 2035. And in case you were wondering.. it's intended to be a one way trip. Inspiration Mars In 2018, the planets will literally align to allow the Inspiration Mars Foundation to send a team of 1 man and 1 woman (a married couple) on a low-fuel mission to and from Mars (within 100 miles, no actual surface landing). The alignment of the planets will allow them to do this in only 501 days. The opportunity for this direct and "free-return" mission only comes around once every 15 years. If IMF are unable to meet the 2018 deadline they will have to settle for "Plan B", sending the team on a similar trip in 2021 which will be 88 days longer and will involve a fly-by of Venus as well, to use its gravity to slingshot the craft towards Mars. The fly-by of Venus is a definite advantage for the for the 2021 "Plan B" mission, however the advantages of the 2018 mission include lower risk due to less manoeuvring and the coinciding of the 11 year solar minimum, which means the lowest solar radiation, which the 2021 and subsequent missions wouldn't have. The ESA, NASA and Russia are also involved in manned Mars missions, however the deadlines are further into the future, or in the case of Russia's are lacking in publicly known details - though they have stated the estimated launch date is between 2016 and 2020.