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Space & Astronomy

Mars colonists could be genetically modified

By T.K. Randall
May 23, 2020 · Comment icon 6 comments

Living on Mars would be extremely hazardous to human health. Image Credit: NASA/Pat Rawlings
For future settlers, living and working on Mars could mean having to undergo genetic modification.
With the first ever manned mission to the Red Planet being as little as ten years away, scientists have long been working to understand the impact such a trip could have on the human body.

Even during relatively short stays aboard the ISS, bones, muscles and even eyesight can begin to deteriorate, while astronauts can experience a number of negative psychological effects.

Imagine, therefore, how much more of a problem it would be to leave Earth's orbit entirely and to spend months or even years traveling through the interplanetary void.

In addition to feelings of extreme isolation, future space travelers would also have to deal with the effects of increased exposure to deadly radiation.

Even on Mars itself, these same problems would still apply.
For a relatively short trip, it may be possible to get by, but for those looking to live on Mars long-term, more radical solutions are going to be needed to prevent serious side effects.

One such solution that is being considered is genetic modification - a field that has been progressing in leaps and bounds in recent years and could make it possible to 'enhance' future Mars colonists with an improved capacity to, for example, better withstand radiation exposure.

Such a concept is not without merit - scientists have previously succeeded in inserting the genes of tardigrades into human cells in a laboratory, making them more resistant to radiation.

It is not outside the realms of possibility, therefore, that this could also be done in living humans.

Whether or not such a procedure would be safe, however, is another matter entirely.

"If we ever get [to Mars], those are the cases where the human body would be almost completely fried by the amount of radiation," said geneticist Christopher Mason.

"There, it would be certain death unless you did something, including every kind of shielding you could possibly provide."

Source: Live Science | Comments (6)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Seti42 3 years ago
I don't think we should send people to Mars until we've established a larger orbital station (to launch from) and/or a moon base with residents first. (Or at LEAST send people back to the moon first to test out all the needed tech...) Baby steps, people. Sending people to Mars would just be a needless waste and a super high risk now, or in the near future before we know more about people being in deeper space for a year+ and inhabiting an atmosphere-less space rock. We also need it to be a global coalition/effort, not just a US vs. them 'competition'.
Comment icon #2 Posted by fred_mc 3 years ago
I doubt that genetically modifying humans can be considered ethical. I think that maybe it can be for curing diseases but not for "enhancing" people so they can go to Mars.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 3 years ago
I'm not sure what is unethical about it. Using genetic modification to produce super-warriors or a master race, yes that's unethical, but using the process to ensure the survival of the human race seems to be about as ethical as you can get.
Comment icon #4 Posted by third_eye 3 years ago
Isn't that the synopsis extract from Doom Eternal?  ~
Comment icon #5 Posted by XenoFish 3 years ago
No. Doom Eternal revolves around the Khan Makyr using human souls as an energy source. Doomguy no likey that they helped hell invade earth with the help of the Deag's (hell priest) of Sentinel Prime. 
Comment icon #6 Posted by jbondo 3 years ago
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