How many people are needed for a long-term mission in a Martian colony? This intriguing question is challenging to answer due to numerous variables, ranging from oxygen and fuel to logistics and psychological aspects.
A recent study conducted by a group of scientists from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, concluded that only 22 colonists might be required for successful survival on Mars. This number is significantly lower than previous estimates by some experts, which suggested a need for at least a hundred individuals.
According to Ana Maria Berea, an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at George Mason University and a co-author of the study, previous estimates didn’t account for human personality. A human collective is a complex system with properties that cannot simply be combined, and they have the ability to adapt and exhibit nonlinear dynamics.
Additionally, the connection between Mars and Earth should be considered. Any Martian settlement would depend on support from the home planet and therefore cannot exist independently. Even sending a small number of people into space to establish a colony would be extremely expensive.
Results of a 28-year modeling
Scientists used computer modeling techniques to provide virtual colonists with various attributes and then tasked them with replicating the functions of a full-fledged Martian colony. One interesting conclusion was that the number of “neurotics” in the collective should be minimized. It turned out that “Martians” with a predisposition to neurotic psychological reactions tend to die faster, and when their population becomes very small, the colony’s population stabilizes.
After launching five different computer models over 28 years, researchers concluded that the minimum number of colonists needed to sustain a long-term mission on Mars is 22 individuals.
This fascinating study will help scientists better understand how humans can secure survival on an alien planet. It also highlights the importance of social and behavioral aspects in the success of such missions.