An Irish astrophysicist is among three people in Ireland who have made it to the last 1,058 applicants for a place on a one-way trip to Mars in 2024.
Dr Joseph Roche from Kildare is one of 200,000 people who applied to take part in the privately funded Mars One project.
It aims to create a permanent human settlement on the red planet, with crews of four departing every two years beginning in around ten years.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Dr Roche said growing up on a small farm in Kildare he dreamed of going to space.
A researcher at the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin, Dr Roche said he spends much of his time promoting science, and now that there is a potential opportunity to travel to Mars, it was a "no-brainer" for him to apply.
Backed by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdrop Mars One plans to send a series of robotic missions to the red planet over the coming years, to prepare an infrastructure for the arrival of humans.
The missions will be funded privately through crowdfunding and the creation of a reality TV show around the project. It is estimated the total cost of the missions will be around $6bn.
Dr Roche said he thinks the Mars One Foundation is one that has to be taken seriously, despite the fact it might sound like a ridiculous idea.
He said the concept is feasible because it is cutting the cost by not providing a return trip.
He said he accepts the technical capabilities do not even exist to bring people back, and that his life expectancy would be greatly reduced on the planet.
But he said by living on Mars he feels he would be taking a leap forward for mankind, and it would be a dream come true.
Dr Roche and the other long-listed candidates must now undergo medical checks as part of the next phase of the selection process.