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It takes just 22 people to start a Mars colony, new study claims

Published Aug 22nd, 2023 3:49PM EDT
forests on mars
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When you think of colonies on other planets, you probably think of large groups of people congregating in colony bases like you’ve seen in science fiction movies and shows. However, a new study claims you’d only need 22 people to start a Mars colony successfully. The study also found that some personalities might not be so great for planetary colonization.

The study in question is currently available on the preprint server arXiv. The study not only ran simulations to see how many human colonists would be needed to optimally set up a colony, but it also compared different personalities to see how they would interact and behave on such a long and isolating mission.

The study says the magic number for the smallest population of colonists that could build and sustain a Mars colony would be 22. Further, the researchers say the simulation looked at four different personalities to see how they would handle the interactions between people with varying levels of skill, stress, and resilience. 

Mars landscape captured by the Pathfinder lander. Image source: NASA/JPL

They found that people who were reactive, sociable, and agreeable could successfully work within the simulated Martian colony without much issue. However, they found that neurotics involved in the simulation were more likely to die than others, with a much higher death rate than other personality types.

This kind of information is extremely valuable, especially if we ever want to actually send humans to Mars and possibly colonize the planet in any way. It’s often easy to think of humans as numbers and pieces of an equation. But, as the researchers note in their study, our distinct personalities bring a lot of complexity to the situation, so it is important to take that into consideration as well.

“We wanted to show that if we neglect the social, behavioral and psychological aspects of space explorations, we can err grossly in our estimations, predictions and projections,” Anamaria Berea, co-author on the study, told The Register. NASA is also currently running a Martian colony simulation with four people that are locked in makeshift Mars bases.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.