Elon Musk dreamed of building a city of million inhabitants on Mars, but first, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla may need to find a small group of people with special genetic traits that are immune to harmful radiations because people who will go to Mars may need to undergo some genetical modifications to resist the harmful radiations. Although Mars colonization still has a long way to go, scientists have launched relevant feasibility studies.
Although the scientists have proven that humans and animals have the ability to resist radiations, scientists know little about it. Nowadays, the radiation test is mainly used to estimate how much radiation the cancer patients can withstand, but one day, perhaps this ability will play an important role in people’s journey to Mars and beyond.
Mars has no protective magnetic field like the one on Earth
The Earth’s magnetic field protects the life on Earth against solar radiations.
In outer space, however, the astronauts are completely exposed to dangerous particles of radiation. Norman Kleiman of the Melman School of Public Health at Columbia University in the United States has studied the effects of radiation exposure and observed that the individuals with a genetic defect in a particular gene show higher radiosensitivity than other individuals.
In the future, however, humans may be able to better adapt to the harmful radiations from the outer space through gene editing technology.
The genetically-modified people who will go on Mars might evolve differently
If genetically-modified people who resist against harmful radiations settle on Mars, they may evolve new features in a new environment.
“In the first generation, they will evolve, and due to their exposure to such harsh radiation conditions, they may evolve more tolerant of radiation (…) and their bones are likely to become less dense and they may grow taller and adapt to certain soil and atmospheric differences,” explained professor Christopher Mason from the Cornell University.