Space settlers may turn to cannibalism, scientists warn – RT World News

Scientists believe the first generations to occupy space outposts have few food choices

Two scientists have suggested that there is a very real possibility that the early space settlers may turn to cannibalism, noting that crop failures and lack of supplies could leave people with very few choices.

Charles Cockell, a professor of astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh, and Dr Cameron Smith, a space technology researcher, suggested in a conversation with the Metro on Sunday that the first humans to leave Earth permanently for another colonizing the planet would face some pretty fundamental challenges.

The experts noted illness, food shortages and the inability to become self-sufficient as the biggest challenges any space colony would face.

Since most planets in our solar system have been ruled out due to inhospitable atmospheres, the pair suggested that Jupiter’s moon Callisto and Saturn’s Titan could be possible destinations, meaning help from Earth could still be years away.

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With that distance from Earth in mind, the experts suggested that a tester colony closer to home might be a good idea, with our moon or Mars as the prime candidates. “The systems have to be really reliable and that’s why they have to be tested first”, said Cockel.

The astrobiologist claimed there was a high probability of failure for such an expedition, noting John Franklin’s lost expedition in 1845 to find the Northwest Passage. “They had canned food, which was the new technology — and yet they got lost, stranded, and eventually turned into cannibalism,” he explained.

Cockell noted that humans can degenerate very quickly under harsh conditions, so if things went wrong in a space colony, humans could eat each other.

If you put a group of people on Callisto, things will go wrong and the plant growth module will break, they will eat each other if there is no other way to survive.

Smith was less sure that people would start eating each other, and suggested they at least wait for their intended food to die, but he reiterated that food supply and production would be a big problem.

He gave the example of the Uruguayan national football team stranded after a plane crash; they did turn to cannibalism, but they only ate the ones that had already died.

“One of the first things they should do is set up a really good farming system and bring in a lot of stored food,” he explained.

Smith also noted the challenges disease can pose, suggesting space settlers may be forced to segregate into groups and go into quarantine to avoid contamination.

However, such problems with space colonies are unlikely to be an immediate concern, as Cockell believes the technology needed for a Mars colony won’t be ready for another 30 to 40 years. Smith was less optimistic, suggesting an attempt at a space colony isn’t likely until the end of the century.

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