Life on Mars may soon be excluded from the sci-fi category. Elon Musk aims to move a million people to Mars, and renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has said before that mankind has only 100 years to settle on another planet. It’s a sad thought – a space colony – but if you ask the European Space Agency, humanity ought to stay on Earth.

To find a new home outside of Earth, despite technological advancements, we still have a long way to go, according to ESA’s Director General Johann-Dietrich Wörner. Even if we got there, it would be a foreboding experience for everybody.

Life on Mars

Speaking with The Times, Dr. Wörner mentioned the Hollywood blockbuster “The Martian.” Matt Damon, who plays a stranded astronaut in the movie, has resorted to farming on Mars and along with his efforts are the various trudges he had to endure here and there. The director implied that the astronaut’s experience is a walk in the park when compared to the harsh realities of actually living on the red planet.

“Always you have to be sheltered and covered, but you cannot even bring your dog to the next tree," Dr. Wörner said. "Mars is not nice.”

In the same interview, Dr. Wörner put emphasis on the difference between colonizing a planet and visiting one. “Colonization is the wrong word,” he asserted.

What works instead as the operative term for establishing a life outside of Earth is “visitation.”

The idea of exploring other planets and moons had always been there, but the move to bring life beyond Earth recently had come to light. Advocates began sprouting, Musk being one of them, founder of SpaceX. While Mars is the most common choice to establish a colony, the moon isn’t far off.

However, life on the moon is no different from living on Mars, according to the ESA head.

Daytime on one side of the moon lasts about 13 and a half days, followed by 13 and a half nights of darkness. When sunlight hits the moon's surface, the temperature can reach 253 degrees F (123 C). The "dark side of the moon" can have temperatures dipping to minus 243 F (minus 153 C).

With this fact, Dr. Wörner said it wouldn't be "a nice life."

Surviving on Earth

As scientists continue their search for extraterrestrial life, what they’re usually looking for are planets that are within a certain range of their host star, called the habitable zone. In that orbit distance, the planets are just in the right radiation levels to support life as know it. In our case, the Earth is not so far from the sun that it freezes into a rock of ice, and it’s not so close either that bodies of water boil into a gas.

But with Earth on the brink of destruction, reports of exoplanets have presented the possibility of life beyond the living planet. What’s interesting is that Dr. Wörner believes it’s better for humankind to stay, and is hoping somehow, we’ll find a way to preserve life right where we are.