Mars Colony Feasible with Just 22 People, Study Finds

mars colony feasible with just 22 people study finds.jpg Science

In an unexpected twist to the narrative of human colonization of Mars, newly published research suggests that a mere 22 individuals, armed with the right psychological traits, could form a viable colony on the Red Planet. This intriguing revelation comes from a study that delved deep into the complex dynamics of behavioral and psychological interactions among prospective Martian settlers. The research, which was recently uploaded on the preprint arXiv server, reveals that the optimal group for colonization would not just require technical skills and physical resilience, but also specific personality traits.

The study leveraged a unique model simulating a Mars colony, taking inspiration from high-performing teams operating in isolated, high-stress environments such as Arctic exploration or the International Space Station. The simulation examined interactions between individuals with varying levels of skill, resilience, and stress, along with one of four psychological traits: neurotic, reactive, social, or agreeable. The results were telling; a minimum of 22 individuals was required to maintain a viable colony, with agreeable personality types more likely to survive, while neurotic personalities had a notably higher mortality rate.

Surviving Mars: It Takes More Than Numbers

In the quest to land humans on Mars, new research suggests that it might take just 22 people to successfully establish a colony on the Red Planet. Of course, these pioneers wouldn’t just be any random group of people. They would need to have the right personality types to endure the harsh conditions and isolation of Mars.

Mars Colonization: A Matter of Right Personality Types

Mars has been the playground for robotic explorers for six decades, but human colonization presents a whole new set of challenges. A group of scientists recently delved into the behavioural and psychological aspects of potential Mars colonists. Their research, shared on the preprint arXiv server, revealed that a minimum of 22 individuals could not only build but sustain a colony on Mars.

Simulating Mars: Testing Human Limits

To arrive at this conclusion, the scientists created a model simulating a Mars colony. It was based on the dynamics of high-performing teams in isolated, high-stress environments, like the Arctic exploration or the International Space Station. The simulation took into account varying levels of skill, resilience, stress and one of four psychological traits: neurotic, reactive, social, or agreeable. It also factored in the harsh environmental conditions on Mars.

Agreeable Personalities, the Key to Survival

The simulated colony lived for 28 Earth days, with group numbers ranging from 10 to 170 individuals. The study found that a group of 22 was the minimum required to maintain a viable colony. Interestingly, those with agreeable personalities were more likely to survive on Mars, while neurotic individuals faced a higher mortality rate.

Anamaria Berea, associate professor of computational and data sciences at George Mason University and co-author of the study, emphasized the importance of not reducing humans to mere numbers in these calculations. "Human groups are complex systems where the outcome is not the sum of its parts, but synergistic," Berea said. She stressed the importance of considering human behaviour in future space exploration.

The Human Factor in Space Exploration

According to Berea, neglecting the social, behavioural, and psychological aspects of space explorations can lead to gross errors in our predictions and projections. This study underscores the importance of the human factor in space exploration, reminding us that colonizing Mars is not just about technology and resources, but also about the right mix of people.


While the technological challenges of colonizing Mars are immense, this study reminds us that the human element is equally crucial. It’s not just about sending a certain number of people to Mars, but also about choosing the right people. It’s a fascinating insight into the future of space exploration, underlining the importance of psychology in an area often dominated by physical and technological considerations.

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