The study, which sounds optimistic, claims that only 22 people are needed to establish a colony on Mars. The study was uploaded to the preliminary arXiv database on August 11.
Scientists use a computer program called an agent-based model (ABM) to estimate how many people are needed to maintain a colony on the Red Planet. Using ABM allows you to model how a group handles different scenarios based on each personality type.
Four personality types are observed in this simulation, namely friendly in the sense that he is not too competitive or aggressive, socially extroverted and easily adaptable in a social environment, reactive in the sense that he has difficulty adapting to changes in daily life, and neurotic in the feeling that he is very competitive and aggressive.
The simulation also varies the amount of each personality type when performing tasks such as farming and mining on Mars.
Only 22 people would be needed on Mars if…
According to the results of the simulation, scientists found that if most people are cheerful and sociable people, then only 22 people are needed to maintain a colony on Mars.
If there were more neurotics and reactive people, even more people would be needed to maintain the colony.
Limiting the number of members of colonies on Mars is important, because the more people, the more equipment and money are needed. Unfortunately, this study has many limitations.
For example, the simulation assumes that someone else built the infrastructure first, such as buildings, vehicles, and other equipment.
It is also thought that the first colony was powered for seven years by mini-nuclear reactors, such as those used to power rovers and regular supplies from Earth.
Another limitation is that the simulation only lasts for the first 28 years. The simulation is considered successful if at least 10 people survive before the mission is completed.
This is why not all scientists are convinced that colonies with very small populations will exist. Especially when the ultimate goal is to create an independent civilization on the Red Planet.
“Twenty-two people are not enough to build and maintain a well-functioning and self-contained colony on Mars,” Jean-Marc Salotti, research astronaut at the IMS (material integration into systems) laboratory in Bordeaux, France, told Live Science.
Opinions of the countered
Salotti’s previous research showed that it would take at least 110 people to sustain a colony on Mars. The 22 people can survive for a limited time, he said, as long as they have the necessary infrastructure such as energy and resources. However, Salotti emphasized that the colony would not develop.
Salotti thinks looking at a person in a simulated colony on Mars is a smart idea, but it has limitations.
“For a colony, a petty dispute or conflict can spell disaster,” Salotti says. He felt that the four personalities included in the simulation were too simplistic.
More people with a wider range of knowledge and skills are needed to establish and maintain an autonomous colony on Mars, Salotti said. That’s why he stuck to his opinion about 110 people on Mars.
He added that a long-term colony on Mars would also require a larger gene pool than those 22 individuals. Otherwise, according to Salotti, babies on Mars will face inbreeding, thereby reducing their body resistance and increasing morbidity or physiological defects that will actually destroy them.
There was also a study in 2018 that was uploaded to arXiv. Scientists have calculated that it would take at least 98 people to create a genetically viable population on a one-way trip to Proxima Centauri (the nearest star system).
Watch the video “The planet Mars is spinning faster, which confuses scientists“