In 1972, citizen scientist Sir Elton John hypothesized that Mars “ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids.”
While John’s remarks were never published in a peer-reviewed journal (though they did peak at No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart), he’s not wrong about the Red Planet’s inhospitality. With its freezing climate, thin atmosphere and weak gravity, Mars will be a hard place to raise the children necessary to sustain a permanent colony there. And according to a new paper published in the June issue of the journal Futures, conceiving kids on Mars will be even harder.
Thinking about fertility on Mars isn’t just for philosophical fun; in fact, Elon Musk’s SpaceX is developing a rocket with the primary purpose of bringing settlers to Mars. “Reproduction on Mars will be necessary for colony survival and subsequent expansion,” a team of researchers from Brazil, the United States and Poland wrote in the new paper. “Unfortunately, such an endeavor comes with titanic challenges.”
In their new paper, titled “Biological and social challenges of human reproduction in a longterm Mars base,” the researchers dig into exactly what those challenges would be — and the morally questionable solutions that may accompany them.