Why would anyone take a one-way trip to Mars? We asked some of the people who wrote to the Journal of Cosmology about the mission to describe themselves and the reasoning behind their interest. Following are excerpts from their e-mails:

Valuable experience

Paul E. Gregersen, 61

Clarno, Wis.

I am married (she would not be happy with me if I was able to go); clergyperson with the United Methodist Church 2002-present; retired 1st Sgt USMC March 1996; retired from health care administration after 34 years in 2007.

I believe the older generation would be a good fit for this trip. We are rather mature, lived a good life in most cases. Perhaps we could give back something to further space exploration for future generations. My hope would be that enough of us would go so that we could be comforted by a number of individuals rather than just a select few. I am not concerned about a return trip, as I believe within a decade that would be feasible also.

Jessica Sloan with her boyfriend Logan Jones. The stuffed moon is a toy from Jessica's childhood. Jessica and her boyfriend are interested in a one way trip to Mars. (Photo by Tracy A Woodward/The Washington Post) (TRACY A WOODWARD/WASHINGTON POST)

First families

Jessica Sloan, 27, Rosslyn

The one-way trip would be on condition that my boyfriend and I go together.

I’ve wanted to go into space since I was 2. According to my parents, my first word after “Mom” and “Dad” was “moon.” My partner and I have something very important to offer: the fact that we come as a unit. Families have been the building blocks of any sustainable colony on Earth, and I don’t see why another planet would be any different. If Mars is the next frontier, I can’t think of any greater honor as a human being than to be among those who helped develop this frontier into a new and sustainable place for human life to continue. No one will come back, and not everyone will survive, but those who do will have great-great-great-great-grandchildren who can tell a Post reporter about how their ancestors set out one day to change mankind forever. How cool is that?

Surmounting problems

Chris Kessel, 23, Great Falls, Mont.

I am Airman First Class Kessel, a space facilities and missile maintenance technician with the United States Air Force, currently working towards a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

I grew up in the High Desert in Southern California. It’s just wildly interesting to me to imagine the vastness of space and the unlimited resources that can be gathered from other planets, solar systems and asteroids. Some of the major issues of space — oxygen, food, pressure, radiation, temperature, time, distance and psychological issues — seem easier to surmount when broken down into their components. We’ve done it before, now we just have to do it longer.

Survival of the species

Robert J. Garner, 21, Silver Spring

A life-sustaining planet is an extremely fragile system; any number of shifts in planetary parameters can destroy all forms of life that inhabit it. So the only possible means of protecting our species and all the life on Earth is to spread ourselves across the solar system and, when technology permits, across the stars. The most important thing I could do in my life is to be a part of the first steps toward ensuring the survival of the human race.