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Let’s say the future has come and mankind has managed to populate Mars and get comfortable there. What would a Martian colonist look like after thousands of years? Would his appearance be different from that of an earthling?

Photo: Joseph Ventura / Artist's idea of ​​how people might look after several thousand years of life on Mars
Photo: Joseph Ventura / Artist’s impression of ​​how people might look after several thousand years of life on Mars

Scientists say that prolonged residence on the Red Planet, where gravity and sunlight are weaker than on Earth, and radiation is much stronger, will lead to rapid evolutionary changes. Experts even believe that Martians can turn into a new kind.

“Two populations of the same species, settled in different isolated territories, begin to differ from each other – remember the Galapagos finches studied by Charles Darwin. The finches living on one island are different from the finches on the other island: in different territories they have signs that help to survive in the very environment where they settled, Biologist Scott Solomon writes 

in his book Future Humans: Inside the Science of Our Continuing Evolution. – If speciation on Earth’s islands takes thousands of years, then on Mars this process will go much faster due to the huge difference in conditions. In just 100-200 generations, or 6000 years, a new kind of person may appear on the Red Planet.”

The new kind?

Six thousand years is a short time for a person to change beyond recognition. Modern Homo sapiens exist as a separate species for an estimated 160,000 – 45,000 years. And some scholars doubt the words of Solomon.

Biologists Philip Mitterreker of the University of Vienna in Austria, says :

“Speciation is a lengthy process that usually requires reproductive isolation (the inability of members of one population of a species to interbreed with another – Ed.) for millions of years and a large population. Some human groups have been isolated for thousands of years and are still far from becoming a separate species. Therefore, it is unlikely that the people who colonize Mars will last for 6,000 years. On the other hand, conditions on the Red Planet are suitable for minor physical changes to begin to appear among the colonists after a hundred generations.”

For Mars to undergo any evolutionary changes:

1) natural selection should work;

2) the local habitat must be different from the terrestrial. If you create completely terrestrial conditions on the Red Planet: strengthen gravity, put artificial lighting, produce the same food as on Earth, people will not change;

3) differences in conditions should not be too strong so that the population does not die in the first weeks.

How Martians will differ from earthlings

Bones

When a person settles on the Red Planet, he will no longer need a heavy, well-mineralized skeleton. The attraction on Mars is much weaker than the Earth, the colonist’s weight here will be almost 3 times less, which means that the load on the skeleton is lower. The need for massive bones will disappear, the body will become unprofitable to spend energy on their content.

“People with heavy bones will spend more calories, energy and minerals to build their skeleton, so on Mars they will “lose” evolutionarily to people with thin bones,” Drobyshevsky notes in the lecture.

The same goes for the digestive tract. In conditions of reduced gravity, a person needs less energy for walking and physical labor, so he will not consume as much food as on Earth. The digestive apparatus will contract, the bodies of the colonists will become narrow.

Photo: Ville Ericsson / Colonization of Mars as an artist
Photo: Ville Ericsson / Colonization of Mars

When the Martian arrives on Earth, people will see a thin man with fragile bones. The weight of a Martian will increase almost 3 times: a 38-kilogram individual on our planet will weigh 100 kilograms, this will cause an additional load on his bones. Most likely, he will not be able to move around without help, he will need a cane or a wheelchair. Another “surprise”: a Martian colonist could injure their chest even with a friend’s “pat in the back”.

Heart

A Martian visiting Earth will die after some time from heart failure.

On the Red Planet, in conditions of low gravity, the heart muscle does not need to work so hard and contract quickly to pump blood through the circulatory system, as on Earth. Therefore, the Martian’s heart will become “weaker”, that is, less “trained.” In terrestrial conditions, it simply can not cope with the load.

Eyes

Mars is much farther from the Sun than Earth. The red planet receives 1.5-2 times less light, because of this the eyes of the colonists can change.

“A sunny day on Mars is like a cloudy day on Earth, – explains Natalie Kabrol, a planetologist at SETI. – Our eyes are accustomed to a certain amount of light. Martians will have to adapt to new conditions: either the brain will develop a new method that allows the retina to perceive and process more of the light that is, or over time, the colonists will have more eyes.”

Skin

There is not much sunlight on the Red Planet, but the ultraviolet radiation (UV) subtle Martian atmosphere transmits many times more than the Earth.

On our planet, for UV protection, the skin produces the pigment melanin, or rather, its variety – eumelanin , which acts as a natural sunscreen and gives the skin a brown tint. The more eumelanin in the skin, the better the ultraviolet rays are absorbed, and the darker the skin color becomes.

Photo: mic.com / Colonization of Mars as an artist
Photo: mic.com / Colonization of Mars

In his book, Solomon writes that people who have more eumelanin will be better able to withstand extreme ultraviolet radiation on the Red Planet. Therefore, the skin of the Martians will be much darker than anyone on Earth.

To summarize

In the crowd, an earthman will easily notice a Martian. A guest from another planet will be distinguished by very dark skin, a narrow body, large eyes, and will move on a wheelchair.

Most likely we would see a Martian dressed in a protective suit, since direct contact with the earth’s environment for him could end in disrepair.

So far, scientists believe that there is no microbial life on Mars – pathogenic bacteria and other “creatures harmful to the body.” Therefore, the immune system of the colonists will stop working in the form in which it works for us – it will lose the ability to fight earthly infections. In order not to die, the Martian on Earth will never have to take off his protective suit and eat only sterilized food.

Post scriptum

All the information cited in the article is hypothesis based on the tenets of evolutionary biology. It is impossible to know exactly what adjustments nature will be made in the appearance and organism of Martians.

If the colonists really change a lot and differ from earthlings, what will we consider them? Aliens, or just another species?

Space

KOI-5Ab, the curious planet that orbits in a system of three suns

KOI-5Ab, the curious planet that orbits in a system of three suns 106
Photo: (Caltech / R. Hurt (IPAC))

To us, the Sun alone seems perfectly normal, but our solar system is actually a strange exception.

Most stars in the Milky Way galaxy have at least one companion star. In a system 1,800 light-years away, astronomers have finally confirmed the existence of a gas giant planet orbiting stars in a triple star system.

Called KOI-5, the system is located in the constellation Cygnus, and the exoplanet was confirmed ten years after it was first detected by the Kepler space telescope.

In fact, the planet – now known as KOI-5Ab – was discovered by Kepler when it began operations back in 2009.

“KOI-5Ab was dropped because it was difficult and we had thousands of other candidates,” astronomer David Siardi of NASA’s Exoplanet Science Institute said.

“There were lighter dives than the KOI-5Ab, and every day we learned something new from Kepler, so the KOI-5 was almost forgotten.”

Exoplanet hunters tend to avoid the complexities of multi-star systems; of the more than 4,300 exoplanets confirmed to date, less than 10 percent are multi-star systems, although such systems dominate the galaxy. As a result, little is known about the properties of exoplanets in multi-star systems compared to those orbiting a lone star.

After Kepler’s discovery, Chardy and other astronomers used ground-based telescopes such as the Palomar Observatory, Keck Observatory, and the Gemini North Telescope to study the system. By 2014, they had identified two companion stars, KOI-5B and KOI-5C.

Scientists were able to establish that the planet KOI-5Ab, is a gas giant that is about half the mass of Saturn and 7 times the size of Earth, and is in a very close five-day orbit around KOI-5A. KOI-5A and KOI-5B, both of roughly the same mass as the Sun, form a relatively close binary system with an orbital period of about 30 years.

KOI-5Ab, the curious planet that orbits in a system of three suns 107

A third star, KOI-5C, orbits the binary system at a much greater distance, with a period of about 400 years – slightly longer than Pluto’s 248-year orbit.

“By studying this system in more detail, perhaps we can understand how planets are created in the universe.”

The discovery was announced at the 237th meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

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Space

Why the universe does not fit into science

Why the universe does not fit into science 108
Photo: YouTube

Science can be compared to an artist painting what he has never seen, or to a writer describing other people’s travels: objects that he has never seen, places where he has never been. Sometimes such scientific “arts” turn out to be beautiful and interesting, but most of them will forever remain only theories, because they are beyond human capabilities.

In fact, science has the right only to speculate: how our universe appeared, how old it is, how many stars and other objects it contains.

Universe model

Why the universe does not fit into science 109

How many stars are there in the sky?

With an unarmed eye, a person can see about nine thousand stars in the sky in one cloudless and moonless night. And armed with binoculars or a telescope, much more – up to several million. However, this is much less than their true number in the universe. Indeed, only in our one galaxy (the Milky Way) there are about 400 billion stars. The exact amount, of course, is not known to science. And the visible universe contains about 170 billion galaxies.

It is worth clarifying that scientists can see the universe 46 billion light years deep in all directions. And the visible (observable) universe includes the space accessible to our eyes from the moment of the Big Explosion. In other words, only this (accessible to human perception) space science refers to our universe. Science does not consider everything that follows.

It is believed that there are supposedly a ceptillion (10 to 24 degrees) stars in our universe. These are theoretical calculations based on the approximate size and age of the universe. The origin of the universe is explained by the Big Bang theory. This is why the universe is constantly expanding and the more time passes, the more complex the universe and its components become.

Why the universe does not fit into science 110

It is not entirely correct to consider and perceive this scientific theory “head-on”. Scientists always claim that that explosion was not exactly an explosion, and the point that exploded was not the only one. After all, it was everywhere, because space did not exist then. And in general – everything happened quite differently from what is described in the Big Bang theory, but all other descriptions of the origin of the universe are even more incredible and inaccurate.

Separate but interconnected

That which is beyond the reach of human perception is usually discarded by science, or recognized as non-existent. Recognizing one thing, science does not want to recognize the existence of the other, although everything in our world is interconnected and is not able to exist separately – by itself.

Each object of the universe is a part of it much more than an independent, separate object.

Any person, like any material object of our world, consists of components: organs, cells, molecules, atoms. And each of its constituent parts can represent the whole world. Separate, and at the same time connected with all the others.

However, science, as a rule, perceives all the components of the universe – people, animals, plants, objects, the Earth, the Sun, other planets and stars – as separate subjects, thereby limiting itself.

Why the universe does not fit into science 111

Even what is considered the visible universe, one of the atoms of which could be called our solar system, is not subject to the boundaries of human perception. But perhaps the atom is an exaggeration, and our solar system is not even an atom, but one of its elements!

How, being so far from the truth, can one reason about something with the degree of probability with which science tries to reason about the origin of the universe?

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Space

An unexplained wobble shifts the poles of Mars

An unexplained wobble shifts the poles of Mars 112

The red planet sways from side to side like a whirligig when it loses speed. The new study allowed scientists to notice that the poles of Mars deviate slightly from the axis of rotation of the planet. On average, they move 10 cm from the center with a period of 200 days.

Such changes are called the Chandler Oscillations  – after the American astronomer Seth Chandler, who discovered them in 1891. Previously, they were only seen on Earth. It is known that the displacement of the poles of rotation of our planet occurs with a period of 433 days, while the amplitude reaches 15 meters. There is no exact answer why this is happening. It is believed that the fluctuations are influenced by processes in the ocean and the Earth’s atmosphere.

Chandler’s wobbles on Mars are equally perplexing. The authors of the study discovered them by comparing data from 18 years of studying the planet. The information was obtained thanks to three spacecraft that orbit the Red Planet: Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Global Surveyor. 

Since Mars has no oceans, it is likely that the Red Planet’s wobbly rotation is due to changes in atmospheric pressure. This is the first explanation that researchers have shared. In the future, there should be new details about the fluctuations that have so interested the scientific community.

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