Friday, September 22

What is the minimum number of people required to establish a colony on Mars?

New research suggests that establishing a colony on Mars could be as easy as 22 people, but only if the population is composed of pleasant individuals.

The prospect of human habitation on Mars has been explored by robotic arms for nearly 60 years, but the science is far from straightforward. A recent study published on arXiv examines the behavioral and psychological interactions among potential colonists in search of a feasible population size.


A model was created by the researchers to simulate a colony on Mars, using teams of people in isolated, high-stress environments like the Arctic or International Space Station. The simulation involved interactions between individuals with different levels of skill, resilience, stress, and one of four psychological traits: neurotic, reactive, social, or pleasant, in addition to the environmental factors.

During the 28-day period of the experiment, each group consisted of 10 to 170 individuals. The researchers determined that a minimum of 22 people was necessary to sustain ten viable colonies on Mars, and that the person with the most agreeable personality type was the one more likely to survive. However, they found that neurotic personality types died at disproportionate rates and some died sooner than others.

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The Register reported that Anamaria Berea, a professor of computational and data sciences at George Mason University, co-authored the study. She explained that humans are often viewed as numbers or particles without any personal incentives, heterogeneity, or flexibility.

The researchers aimed to illustrate the significance of considering human behavior in future space exploration and cautioned that neglecting social, behavioral, and psychological factors can result in significant errors in our estimations, predictions, or projections.


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