Carl Sagan once said, “Look again at that [Earth] dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives”. Earth is the ultimate place where we humans live and hurtle through the vastness of the cosmos. The only people living away from the Earth are astronauts living on the International Space Station. Now that many space agencies and individuals like Elon Musk and others are trying to make what was just a figment of science fiction, making settlements on the red planet Mars a reality which can be expected to bloom in coming 20 years.
Setting up settlements on Mars has its own challenges. Firstly, it is around 60 million miles away from the Earth at its closest distance and it would take around 7 months to reach there. Then, other massive challenges to conquer are logistics of food, space travel, water, breathable air, and the high levels of radiation. But there is an underlying yet the most crucial question of ‘em all, it is about human reproduction and if it is possible on Mars or not. A new research paper published in the journal Futures has describes the various complications related to sex on Mars.
Mars has a low-gravity environment which is only 38% of the gravity we observe on the Earth. This can create a lot of health problems as well as complications during the pregnancy process. It is gravity on Earth which strengthens and structures bones on Earth, allow fluids within our body to flow. But with low-gravity, humans could suffer weakened immune system, loss of vision, elongated stature, dehydration, reduced heart rates and others. The paper discusses if a mother could carry a child in her womb full term without causing any health problems. This could increase the risk of infection-induced abortions and spread of disease across other individuals living on the planet.
Another major problem as discussed in the paper related to sex on Earth is the levels of radiation which could hamper the sperm count. The radiation can also damage brain cell, DNA mutation and it can cause various types of cancers. Sex on Mars might not be allowed for all individuals as couples with compatible traits might be allowed to reproduce in favor of pure survival on the planet. Further, millions of combinations of genes can be accessed to find the genes and traits suitable to sustain life on the planet which are adapted to the reduced gravity.
The paper discusses the prowess of gene editing tools which can help scientists to cleave off traits and genes that can help humans survive on Earth. These genes could be attached to the DNA of fetus through in-vitro technology or other methods used. The change in traits can help humans to perform sex on Mars, however, it would take a lot of time before humans are perfectly adapted to the Martian environment. A popular channel on YouTube describes how mating on Mars will produce weakened offsprings at first. However, the natural selection will play its vital role in the process whereby allowing humans to transform into Martian subspecies, however, it has its own complications too.
Sex on Mars seems like a fascinating activity for couples living tens of million miles away from the mother Earth. SpaceX has planned its first mission to Mars by the end of 2022 where its success will determine the further plans such as first manned space travel to Mars and much more.