An Italian researcher has created a mathematical model to determine the minimum number of settlers and the way of life they have to carry to survive on another planet, using Mars as an example. The study is researching on how civilization on mars will be formed.
The study is titled » Minimum Number of Settlers for Survival on Another Planet «. The author is Jean-Marc Salotti, professor at the Bordeaux National Polytechnic Institute. His article has been published in Scientific Reports.
Salotti’s model has nothing to do with the amount of resources that would have to be provided, or the feasibility of interplanetary transport. He has based his model on how many people are needed to start a new society in which obtaining resources is very complex. Salotti has especially focused on a factor he calls “sharing”. Basically it has measured the best number of settlers when supplying the population is difficult, but it is also difficult to obtain resources. That is, it takes others to get water on Mars, but how many if you have to give them a drink afterwards?
Imagine an isolated individual in a colonization situation on Mars. They would have to do all the tasks themselves. They would have to build and / or maintain their own systems to acquire drinking water, oxygen, and generate energy. There would not be enough time each day. The burden on one person would be enormous.
But in a larger colony, the technology for things like getting clean water, oxygen, and power generation is used by more people. That creates more demand, but also shares the effort.
The effort it takes to build and maintain all of those systems is now shared among more people. That, in essence, is Salotti’s sharing factor.
More people means more needs, but also less effort. The main effort is on how civilization on mars will be formed.
As the number of people increases, there is room for further specialization. Imagine a colony of only 10 people. How many of them would need to be able to repair and maintain the drinking water system? Or the oxygen system?
Those systems cannot be allowed to fail, so there would be great pressure for a large percentage of those people to operate and understand those systems.
Salotti writes: “If each settler were completely isolated and it was not possible to share, each individual would have to carry out all the activities and the total time requirement would be obtained by multiplying by the number of individuals.”
A REALISTIC SCENARIO
Salottti’s basic assumption is that, for whatever reason, the flow of supplies from Earth has been disrupted and the colony must be maintained. With this idea he participated in a contest organized by the Mars Society , where they were asked to define a realistic scenario for Martian settlers.
For Salotti, the effective number of people needed to balance the equation of time is 110 on Mars.