How many people are needed to colonize Mars? The mathematician calculated it

In his study, the scientist answered the question of how many Homo sapiens are needed to create a self-sufficient community on the red planet.

Humanity is about to colonize Mars. The designers of the future colony will focus on choosing a suitable place where raw materials are needed, especially water, on the equipment that the colonizers have to bring with them, on the dwellings in which they will live …

However, the question of how many settlers have to fly to Mars remains in order for the colony to function without ground support. At the same time, it is clear that there must be more of them than in a normal (reconnaissance) flight, when astronauts land, take soil samples, map the subsoil and fly back.

He does it and he does this

… is sung in “The Baker’s Emperor”. Jean-Marc Salotti, Professor of Mathematical Sciences at the National Polytechnic Institute, Bordeaux, has written a study on the subject with an all-encompassing title Minimum Number of Settlers for Survival on Another Planet (“Minimum number of settlers to survive on another planet”).

The scientist worked his way up to the number 110.

Salotti was based on the logical assumption that the settlers must cooperate, otherwise they would not survive the alien planet cut off from Earth in extremely difficult conditions.



“Try to imagine that Mars would be colonized by a single person. He would have to take care of everything himself – drinking water, oxygen and energy. He would not have enough time for that, he would not be able to handle all these tasks … Larger colonies bring more demand, but spread the tasks among more people, “Salotti wrote of his study.

The scientist assumes that specialist settlers will fly to Mars to focus on certain tasks. Some will focus on the drinking water system, others on oxygen production, the third on fuel production, food growing districts … Salloti divides the Martian community into five sections: ecosystem management, energy production, building construction, industry, social activities.

Just a ‘house number’?

Professor Salotti says that the aim of his study was to help find the best survival strategy on alien planets. He admits that other studies may lead to a different result. “I came up with a result based on a lot of assumptions, but it’s just an estimate,” points out the French mathematician.



Elon Musk, the owner of SpaceX, wants to send the first manned flight to Mars as early as 2024. The first fleet of ships is to fly a hundred people, which is approaching the “Salotti minimum”. By the middle of the century, the visionary is going to transport a million people to the planet.

Salotti’s study was published in a magazine Nature.