How to change the body of people who will live on Mars?

Mankind wants to go to Mars one day, andit is possible, in the future, to terraform it, turning the Red Planet into a more similar analogue of the Earth. The head of SpaceX, Ilon Mask, said that the first people would go there as early as 2024. NASA is going to send an expedition of three to Mars in 2033, after the exploration of the Moon begins and will go at full speed. Certain experts have such a short timeframe, of course, a sensible part of skepticism, but the main question here is not even how much money the leading space agencies are going to invest in developing technologies that will allow people to fly there.

More importantly, we do not understand thoseevolutionary consequences for the human body, which will be expected when moving to the Red Planet. In an interview with Inverse portal Scott Solomon, an evolutionary biologist from Rice University, shared his thoughts on how the migration of humans on Earth’s genetic foundation will affect its long-term migration to Mars.

"As an evolutionary biologist, I have the mostinterested in the question: what if we really succeed? I don’t think that by the present moment there have been many discussions on what will happen to people living in these colonies after several generations, ”notes Solomon.

Last year, Solomon, speaking at the conferenceTEDx in Houston, raised the question of those evolutionary changes that can most likely be expected by the first Martian settlers. At the same time, in his opinion, instead of a thousand years of evolutionary processes and minor mutations, the organism of people who migrated to the Red Planet will change with the speed of a roller coaster.

"The speed of evolution may be faster orslower depending on the potential benefits that may result from mutations. If people have a mutation that will increase their survival by 50 percent - this is an advantage, right? In this way, these people will be able to pass on their genes with a higher probability and speed than was otherwise, ”the specialist notes.

Solomon notes that after about twogenerations of the bones of people living on Mars will become wider, adapting to the effects of Martian gravity, which is only 1/3 of that of Earth. At the same time, reduced gravity will make them more fragile, which in turn will lead to serious problems with childbirth, since the bones of the pelvis in women will break like matches.

Despite the large martian expanses, peoplewill have to live in a rather tight and compact living conditions, which in turn will lead to the development of myopia (myopia). As an example, Solomon cites some species of fish that, living in cramped underwater caves, generally lost their organs of sight. In addition, scientists refer to research, the findings of which suggest that children, most often spending time at home, there is an increased risk of developing myopia.

The inhabitants of the Red Planet will be dailyexposed to 5,000 times more radiation doses than normal life on earth. Solomon noted that this is a hello for the strongest outbreaks of cancer. The body can respond appropriately, endowing people with new skin pigment. Here, on the Earth, the human body uses melanin to counter UV rays, in other species carotenoids are responsible for this. Inhabitants of Mars with time can develop a completely different pigment, which will increase their protection against radiation.

It is possible, the scientist, respiratory andThe circulatory system of people living on Mars will also change over time, gaining the opportunity to more efficiently use available oxygen. Such mutations are already observed in peoples living in the region of the Tibetan Highlands, where the oxygen content is 40 percent lower than its concentration at sea level. In response, the Tibetan organism developed a denser network of capillaries for more efficient circulation. In addition, it is able to dilate blood vessels in order to more efficiently supply muscles with oxygen.

One of the fastest expected changes inorganisms of people living on Mars, will be almost complete loss of the immune system. In a sterile environment without the presence of microorganisms, residents may not need a body that can fight pathogens. But this may not be so bad, says Solomon. An evolutionary biologist sees this as an opportunity to eradicate diseases, which are no salvation now.

Of course, not without flaws. In this case, the reproduction between the Martians and humans will be impossible. Sex between the inhabitants of two planets in the absence of the Martians immune system will be fatal for them. This, in turn, can impose artificial constraints on how both populations can interact and mix. The inability to create interplanetary families and the transfer of children between parents on different planets, for example, on the basis of their work, will separate society even more.

Solomon is sure that all these changes will occur.relatively very fast. The high level of radiation on Mars and the absence of the planet’s magnetosphere, which would protect people from it, will quickly do its job. If in the usual case children can be born with 20-120 genetic mutations, then the radiation of Mars will be able to significantly increase these numbers of changes in the genes.

Speed ​​up the mutation process and prepare people formoving to Mars so that their bodies adapt much faster to new conditions, we can artificially. Using the same genome editing technologies CRISPR / Cas9. But our current limited knowledge of the human genome and, as a result, random changes can have unintended consequences. Nevertheless, in the future this technology may become our entrance ticket for life on other planets.

“Why wait for mutations if you can create them yourself?”, Solomon wonders.

Another mechanism that can serve assince the colonization of the distant worlds of the solar system can become the so-called “founder effect” —the transfer by a group of individuals (individuals — founders ”) of a large population of only a part of the genetic diversity of this population when they populate a new territory, because of the possible“ accents ”of the natural selection. The original and new populations can evolve in significantly different directions. For example, the most physically healthy and strong people sent to Mars can get offspring that are genetically more prone to physical strength than people who have long been on Mars.

All this means that Musk and other people whoonce they want to inhabit Mars, they must take into account the need for genetic diversity in order to provide the perfect balance for the possibility of further evolution of the population. According to Solomon, for this purpose it will be sufficient to send about 100,000 people to Mars within a few years. And mostly it should be people from Africa, because this is where the most extensive genetic diversity is observed.

“If I designed a human colony on Mars, I would like its population to consist of hundreds of thousands of people representing various nations here on Earth,” the scientist concluded.

I would like to believe that the architects of the new worlds will heed these words.

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