(ASTRONOMY) In the science fiction novel and movie The Martian, a stranded astronaut survives more than 500 days on Mars by growing potatoes. A permanent human settlement on Mars would need to do much better. And according to a computer model created by planetary scientists, that’s actually an attainable goal. With the right food sources, we could grow a million-person population on Mars that doesn’t depend on food shipped from Earth in about a hundred years, a recent paper in the journal New Space reports.
Companies like SpaceX have made exciting steps toward the possibility of humans on Mars, says Kevin Cannon, a planetary scientist at the University of Central Florida and lead author of the study. But beyond the challenge of getting humans to Mars in the first place, there’s a lot of work left to figure out how to make a self-sufficient, functioning society there.