But there has always been one particular obstacle set in the path of manned missions to the red planet (apart from cramming the vehicle with enough food and water to last for 18 months, of course).
Solar storms are made up of a particularly nasty form of radiation which, if encountered by astronauts, would lead to some rather unpleasant crispiness.
That's not to mention the rather negative 'cellphone in a microwave' effect it would have on the ship's electronics.
The earth is protected from these solar storms by the magnetosphere which deflects the radioactive particles harmlessly back into space.
A team of British researchers believes that it has come up with a solution by creating a mini magnetosphere around the spacecraft.
The theory has been tested on a scale model in the lab and it seems to provide almost total protection for the capsule and its inhabitants.
It has always been thought that creating a viable magnetosphere would be impossible due to the size of the equipment needed and the amount of power it would require.
But Professor Bob Bingham and his colleague Dr Ruth Bamford reckon they can get the required result from a device the size of a playground roundabout.
What's more, it would draw about the same amount of juice as a domestic kettle.
To infinity and beyond!
Mini magnetosphere makes Mars manned missions manageable
By INQUIRER Newsdesk on Nov 6, 2008 6:23AM