Simulations indicate that it only takes 22 people to start a colony on Mars

Mars colony

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A team of computational sociologists at George Mason University has discovered through simulations that 22 people is the minimum required to start a human colony on Mars. The group published a paper describing their simulations on arXiv Advance print server.

As people around the world contemplate the possibility of one day sending humans to Mars and later establishing a colony, scientists are exploring ways to overcome obstacles that stand in the way of achieving such goals. One factor that needs to be addressed, according to the team, is how many people can maintain a Mars colony, and what kinds of people are needed.

To find potential answers, the team created a model that simulated a Mars colony, focusing specifically on the number of people required to create a viable colony as well as the characteristics most likely to contribute to the success of such a colony. To that end, they used data from previous endeavors, such as questionnaires filled out by groups aboard the International Space Station, or those who live in close quarters in the Arctic for months at a time. They also tried to take into account known personality traits, such as stress tolerance, social skills, and degree of neuroticism.

The research team ran five simulations, each representing 28 Earth years of the colony’s life, with variables changing between cycles, such as the number of people in the Martian colony. They found that 22 is the minimum number of people. They also found that people with agreeable personalities were, not surprisingly, more likely not only to survive such a task, but also to thrive, allowing the colony to continue. On the other hand, they found that people with neurotic personalities were more likely to fail their task and die earlier than others, thus jeopardizing the success of the task as a whole.

more information:
Edgar Arguello et al., Exploring the Colonization of Mars Using Agent-Based Modeling, arXiv (2023). doi: 10.48550/arxiv.2308.05916

Journal information:

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