The Mars colonization project is led by a prominent Dutch scientist and is an entirely private enterprise -- or so they say ;-). Pioneers are expected to move to Mars for the rest of their lives. See the four-minute project promo video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QoEEGySGm4 Image from http://www.geekosystem.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/mars-one.jpg.
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Well put, Lisa! Having the ability to colonize Mars might feel empowering, but NEEDING to would be terrifying (no terra pun intended). I hope that in some ironic way the Mars publicity makes us appreciate Earth all the more.
No problem, Woodchip! According to Steve Martin, Mars already has plenty of kittens. You can hear him talk about it on YouTube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XHcSGLXpCc. These kittens do not age or die.
How about the birds and the bees? ;)
Birds and bees might adapt. At first though it'll just be indoor areas on Mars that have wildlife, unless wildlife is already present.
You can have an advanced aviary in your dome, but it's really not the same... I'm with you, Woodchip!
Does it sweeten the deal to know it's merely six to eight months travel time -- not two years? You could play Ping Pong on the ship.