What Is the Human Population on Mars?

February 15, 2024

Many of the biggest names in science and technology, including physicist Stephen Hawking and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, have called for humans to colonize Mars. They argue that populating other planets would help to ensure humanity’s survival should Earth be rendered uninhabitable by runaway climate change, global pandemics or asteroid strikes.

Whether these visions of human colonization will come to pass remains unknown. But if they do, the first colonists will need to build infrastructure capable of handling everything from water to oxygen to food. And they will also need to create systems that can operate in the harsh Martian environment.

To achieve this, researchers will need to understand how the colony could generate energy from Martian resources, such as solar power and methane, while minimizing the need for resupply from Earth. They’ll also need to design housing and infrastructure that can accommodate a variety of weather conditions, from the occasional dust storm to the polar vortex.

One possible solution is to use the planet’s thicker atmosphere to trap methane, which could then be used as a fuel for energy production. But that won’t be enough to supply all of the settlement’s needs. That’s why Cannon and his colleagues modeled the food requirements of a Mars settlement that could grow to a million people through a combination of immigration and reproduction. They found that the settlement could become self-sufficient in about a century with the right choice of foods.


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