Although travel to Mars is still years away, scientists are already contemplating the possibilities of colonizing the red planet. The main process of sustaining a civilization, reproduction, may be the most difficult part of the entire scheme. A new paper lists cosmic radiation, microgravity, and stress as the leading, but not the only, dangers in trying to have a baby on Mars. We might not have a choice. Lead author and cognitive scientist Konrad Szocik says, “Of course, we should remember that when people will be able to live on Mars and reproduce on it, perhaps living on Earth will not be possible any more.”
Szocik thinks that there is only one way that humans could potentially have healthy babies on Mars immediately: Genetic engineering—which bring with it its own set of challenges.
“We should do that now, on Earth, to improve our chances of survival in space,” Szocik proposed. “We did not evolve to live in space. We should do [our] best to modify humans before sending them to space.” Szocik realizes that genetically modifying humans for spaceflight and space life is a Herculean task, and one for which our technology isn’t quite yet there. The concept surely raises ethical questions, as well. “Perhaps we should just leave Earthly ethics on Earth,” he said.
So when you hear the meme that quotes the TV show Futurama, "I don’t want to live on this planet anymore," be aware that other planets are thought to be more of an escape hatch than an improvement. Read more about the challenges of reproduction on Mars at The Daily Beast. -via Digg
(Image credit: Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast)