The New New

Elevated radiation could cause higher mutation rates, speeding up the evolutionary process on the red planet

Image: Stocktrek Images/Getty

Going to Mars will change us — and not just in a touchy-feely, metaphysical way.

Over time, we should expect a fair bit of evolutionary divergence between Mars settlers and the human population on Earth, according to Rice University biologist Scott Solomon, who examined this possibility in his 2016 book Future Humans: Inside the Science of Our Continuing Evolution. That divergence will start unspooling at the outset, thanks to something called “the founder effect.” No matter how or when it happens, the Red Planet will be settled by a relatively small group of people who are not perfectly representative of…

Michael Wall

Senior writer at Space.com and author of Out There, a book about the search for alien life that will be published on Nov. 13, 2018.

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