Red Planet sales puts firm in pink - BBC News
Efforts to explore Mars are benefiting a Cornish website selling plots of land.
St Austell firm Moonestates.com has been selling off chunks of the moon since 2000, when it bought the UK franchise for "land sales across the solar system" from American businessman Dennis Hope.
But now the announcement by US President George W Bush that the Moon is to be used as a stepping stone for a mission to Mars has excited a flood of interest in Martian property.
One-acre plots, which are soSue Williams from Moonestates said: "Dennis Hope realised there was a loophole in the United Nations Outer Space Treaty of 1967.
"That basically says that no country or government can lay claim to extraterrestrial land, but it forgot to say no person could.
"He basically filed his claim with the United Nations in 1980 and has been selling the land since.
"We've looked into it very carefully and this loophole does exist. Even ex-presidents of the United States Ronald Regan and Jimmy Carter have become land-owners on Mars and the Moon, I believe."
She said there had been much interest in Mars, particularly since Britain's Beagle Two mission and America's Martian rovers Spirit and Opportunity landed.
However, not all of the planet is up for grabs. Dennis Hope said areas would be kept for the benefit of humanity.
Sue Williams said: "Sites of scientific interest have been put aside for all of mankind and Dennis isn't selling those."
But if anyone does buy a plot and wants to visit, they will have to prepare to wrap up warm as the temperatures drop to about -73C at midnight.
They will also have to their own air, as they will not be able to breathe the thin atmosphere.
But some customers have bought the plots as gifts.
Sue Williams said: "We have a lot of people who buy plots of the Moon for their partner.
"They say 'I promised them the earth, but at least I can give them a part of the Moon'."
The British National Space Centre said it was not aware of any complaints about the selling of land on the Moon and on Mars. ld with a deed, constitution, property map, mineral rights and a copy of the original Declaration of Ownership are being sold for about £20.