IT is the freezing, barren, extraterrestrial world where no man has gone before.

With temperatures plunging to -85°C and your loved ones tens of millions of miles away, a one-way ticket to the Red Planet might seem like the ultimate punishment.

But that is exactly what space enthusiast Ben Moore is praying for.

The former Southampton University student is a step closer to becoming one of the first humans to set foot on Mars.

He is one of 1,058 people shortlisted for the next round of the Mars One mission – an interplanetary project to create a human colony there in a decade’s time.

The privately funded project, based in Holland, attracted 202,000 initial applications in the race to find 24 winning astronauts to blast off to the distant planet in 2025.

The chosen crew, due to be selected next year, must complete eight years of rigorous training beforehand in hostile Mars-like environments such as the Arctic desert.

They will learn vital construction, maintenance and medical skills to prepare for their roles of building bases, growing their own food and sending research data back to earth.

An unmanned rover will begin constructing the initial base in 2020 and set up life support units converting water from the Martian soil into breathable air and drinking water and setting up solar panels to create electricity.

A spacecraft carrying the astronauts will set off five years later for the 210-day flight.

They will need 48 hours after landing to acclimatise to gravity again and several days to settle into their new home when they eventually get there.

The 33-year-old, now living in Guernsey, who will be 45 when the mission sets off, and has recently switched careers from a chemist to a teacher, said: “I just want to inspire and inform people.

“I hope I will be an inspiration to my students when I become a teacher.”

He said his friends and family are backing him and added: “Most people at the moment are positive about it. It is fantastically brave when you think about it.

“We have to have a degree of commitment to do this, and I certainly can’t rule out the possibility that if I met someone that I would have to ask myself hard questions about whether I would still do this.”

The Mars One Committee will oversee a rigorous series of interviews and team challenges to whittle down applicants to the final crew. They are looking for people in good physical and mental health with the ability to work together during prolonged periods of time in remote locations, rather than specific medical, engineering or flying skills.