The potential for mutations could be a hurdle to establish a space colony on Mars, a goal suggested by Tesla CEO Elon Musk and other technologists, according to Futurism.
Private companies are channeling substantial resources to technologies that could help us reach Mars in the next decade, but the evolutionary implications of residing in that planet are still not well understood, said Scott Solomon, a professor of evolutionary biology at Rice University.
The first colonizers of the red planet would face 5000 times as much radiation as they would on Earth, as well as lower gravity and a lack of microorganisms. In two generations, these factors would lead to stronger bones, shortsightedness, a different skin tone, and a weak immune system, said Solomon.
In the long term, intimate contact between inhabitants of Mars and Earth would be undesirable, he said. The lack of infectious diseases on Mars could make contact between these groups fatal. Furthermore, intra-group reproductions would help Mars inhabitants adapt to their environment faster.
“If we eventually come to inhabit multiple worlds scattered across the gallery, over time, we may see the evolution of a plethora of new human species. We should recognize that there could be unintended consequences for who our decedents become many generations from now,” Solomon said.