This is interesting. A group of researchers developed an agent-based model of a Martian colony “to explore the psychological, social, technological, economic, and logistical factors that would influence the long-term viability of a human Martian settlement.”
They found that the minimum number of individuals needed to create a colony with a stable population was much smaller than one might anticipate: 22.
The population of Dawn, in my books, is around 5000. I’ve worried that this might be too small for self-sufficiency. The fact that this model suggests 22 individuals are enough for population stability (albeit with regular shipments from Earth) suggests otherwise.
The personality categorization used in the model is necessarily blunt. People are, of course, more complicated than what can be modeled in an agent-based system like this one. However, based on the characters I’ve written in Generation Mars, I think that if one were to attempt to categorize the population of Dawn in a similar way, it would lean heavily in the direction the model suggests as most likely to survive: agreeable, social, with a creative approach to life.
While the older children walked through the dust storm, Ori and the younger children were spending the day in the ObsDome. The name was short for “observation dome”. This was one of the newer surface buildings of the colony. It was constructed primarily of ice. Water, in any form, was an effective shield against the various types of radiation that reached the surface of Mars. With thick ice between supportive layers above and clear ice for windows all around, the ObsDome provided a safe place to view the surface around the colony. Nina often brought the younger children here when the third graders were at Surface Training.
This is an interesting paper estimating the minimum number of people required for a self-sufficient colony on Mars. Using a mathematical model to estimate work time requirements vs. work time capacity, the researchers come up with a surprisingly low number: 110.
In the forthcoming second book of the Generation Mars series, I peg the colony population at around 5000, so I think I’m good there.
“This would be the first time any of the children saw the surface. The colonists had built underground, using existing caves and lava tubes where possible, building and burying structures where necessary. This was to protect themselves from solar and cosmic radiation. On Earth, the atmosphere and magnetic field serve this purpose. But Mars has little of either, so dirt and rock filled the role.”
– from Scratching the Surface: Generation Mars, Prelude
A new paper explores lava tubes in the Hellas Planitia as possible habitats for humans.
For some time now, I’ve been puzzling over where to place Dawn Colony on the surface of Mars. Here is the description of the landscape around the colony from Scratching the Surface: Continue reading “Where on Mars?”
A while back I posted about how the writing of science fiction is a race with the progress of science. Here’s a perfect example: where is Dawn Colony? I’ve been hesitant to place it at a specific location on Mars because the more specific I get, the more likely it is I’ll be wrong. Perhaps they live near the southern end of one of the study areas mentioned in this article.