Mars Settlement Possible with Just 22 People, Scientists Say


New research reveals that a Mars settlement could begin with just 22 people, much fewer than previously thought.

The study also identifies the personality types best suited for long-term stays on the Red Planet.

Small but Mighty: A 22-Person Mars Colony

Scientists from George Mason University and other institutions used computer simulations to study the challenges Mars settlers would face.

Their goal was to figure out the conditions needed to maintain a stable outpost on Mars, including how many people are necessary and what resources they would need.

The researchers found that just 22 people could maintain a viable Mars settlement over the long term.

This is much lower than previous estimates that suggested hundreds of people would be needed.

The Right Personalities for Mars

The study also looked at which personality types would be best for a Mars settlement.

Using a method called Agent-Based Modeling (ABM), they simulated interactions between settlers based on four personality types: agreeable, sociable, reactive, and neurotic.

  • Agreeables: Low competitiveness, low aggression, flexible with routines.
  • Sociables: Medium competitiveness, extroverted, need social interaction, flexible with routines.
  • Reactives: Medium competitiveness, strict with routines.
  • Neurotics: High competitiveness, high aggression, struggle with boredom and routine changes.

The simulations showed that agreeable personality types were the most successful and enduring, while neurotics had the hardest time adapting.

Simulating Life on Mars

The researchers assumed the Mars settlement was already built, with food, air, and water being produced locally.

They also assumed a nuclear generator provided electricity for at least seven years.

The purpose of the settlement was to mine minerals to send back to Earth.

The team ran the simulation five times over 28 years, with population sizes varying from 10 to 170.

They found that even if the population dropped to 10, the settlement could survive as long as it was built back up within 1.5 years, the time between supply missions from Earth.

Coping with Stress and Accidents

The study also looked at how settlers would cope with stress from accidents and interactions with others.

They found that agreeable personality types were the most resilient.

The researchers concluded that a team of mostly agreeable people would make the most successful Mars settlement.

Future Studies

For future research, the team suggests varying the proportions of personality types among settlers.

They believe a team of all agreeable types could be the most cohesive and successful.

This study provides valuable insights as space agencies plan future missions to Mars, showing that a small, well-chosen group of settlers could establish a thriving colony on the Red Planet.