The idea of a colonizing Mars isn’t just science fiction anymore; NASA and space agencies around the world, along with independent scientists and researchers, are working hard to determine just what it would take for humanity to flourish on the Red Planet. It is an immense challenge to get there and manage sustainable sources of food and the inhospitable condition on the planet, but apart from all these sex might be the biggest risk of all.
Human reproduction in a Mars settlement will be necessary for the long-term success of an outer space mission. Studies suggests the detrimental impacts of space environment in the health of healthy astronauts who are subjected to short-term and long-term extraterrestrial missions.
Why Is Sex In Space Risky
Efforts to explore reproductive processes in plants, animals, and humans have taken a great deal of work in the past decades. NASA’s Space Biology program, for example, is aimed to conduct microgravity simulation to understand how the species function and adapt in places outside Earth. Children conceived in space are likely to suffer from mental retardation and other genetic effects due to the damage to stem cells where sperm cells originate.
What the research says
According to a new research paper published in “Futures,” an international team of scientists examines the challenges of reproduction on the Martian Surface. It’s a risky proposition, but if humans succeed in conceiving, carrying, and birthing offspring on another world it might actually be the start of a new species. In the paper, the researchers tackle a huge number of potential problems that could crop up when humans are finally ready to rear young on Mars. The first and most obvious hurdle is the low gravity environment, which could pose a serious threat to the conception and pregnancy processes that seem so simple here on Earth.
Health problems on Mars
With just one-third the gravity of Earth, Mars travellers will be subjected to a whole range of health problems. Scientists know this because astronauts who have spent months and in some cases years in space have been closely studied for changes to their biology. Lower gravity causes muscles to deteriorate rapidly and can even weaken bone structure. On top of that, astronauts sometimes experience vision problems and even changes to the shape of their brains.
Couples to be paired with biology rather than emotions
The paper also examines the inherent challenges of bolstering the numbers of a small colony of settlers on the planet. The concept of “love” might have to take a back seat to pure survival, with men and women being paired up by their biology rather than emotion. Additionally, some individuals may never be allowed to have children due to undesirable traits that are a risk to the colony as a whole.
A new human subspecies
In a somewhat scary aside, the researchers also note that editing the genes of future Mars babies might be an easy way to increase the prospects of survival. Pushing out bad traits and optimizing a human for life on Mars could give us a big edge, but as generations pass it would also result in a new kind of human — one who is fine on Mars but could never live a normal life here on Earth.