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A New Species? Kids Born on Mars May Differ From Us

© NASA Jet Propulsion LaboratoryStill shot from a NASA animated video showing what their Mars Helicopter would look like in action.
Still shot from a NASA animated video showing what their Mars Helicopter would look like in action. - Sputnik International
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With experts saying that it wont’s be long before humans start setting up self-sustaining colonies on Mars, big questions arise as to how people will survive in a world that is so different from what we have on Earth.

Because a journey to the Red Planet is long, risky and complex, reproduction is one of the keys to success, says a new study published in the journal Futures.

The paper’s multinational team of authors from Poland, Brazil and the United States believes that it’s high time that people started thinking about sex and procreation on Mars and the problems, both physical and moral, this could entail.

“A minimum viable human population for an extra-terrestrial colony to survive throughout time should include about 5,000 individuals,” the paper notes, adding that it might be safer to aim closer to 5,800.

Physical Problems

With Mars’ decreased gravity [0.38 G compared to 1 G on Earth], it’s unclear how it would affect human sperm and eggs.

A model of the ExoMars rover to be used by the European Space Agency to drill on the Red Planet in 2020. - Sputnik International
Life on Mars? Successful Rover Test Brings Mars Exploration One Step Closer
What is clear, however, is that radiation from the sun, which is stronger on Mars, can seriously harm those, cells as pregnant women will continue to be exposed to these conditions.

Their immune systems may be temporarily affected, increasing the risk of infections or other illnesses, which may then spread to their fellow colonists.

Moreover, miscarriages, birth defects and cancers may become more prevalent, the authors warn.

They also say that by the time the first would-be Martian moms complete their training, reach the planet and conceive, they may be past 40, which poses additional risks.

Fully aware of the danger, Martian colonists may start to impose more restrictive criteria for what’s considered “valuable offspring,” necessitating careful selection of parents to make sure they are not even distantly related, and even banning some people from having children “to prevent traits incompatible with life in Mars from emerging in subsequent generations,” the paper suggests.

A New Species

The researchers note that selecting for or encouraging Mars-friendly traits in newborns through genetic engineering, a new human species might eventually emerge.

Even though they would be better adapted to a life on Mars, they might find living on Earth very uncomfortable.

READ MORE: EU-Russian Mars Mission Landing Site to Be Chosen Soon

“In such a scenario, new ethical challenges arise from the evolution of a new kind of human species who will possess a new nature and, consequently, possibly new moral duties and rights when compared with people living on Earth,” the authors conclude.

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