Best people to send to colonise Mars shared – and how many would have to go

Researchers have revealed the best traits for the first human settlers on Mars.

Computational social scientists at George Mason University looked what they determined to be the four broad personality types – neurotic, reactive, social, and agreeable – and ran five simulations to see which would fare best on the Red Planet.

After a trial period of 28 years, they found people with the "agreeable" personality type were most likely to last.

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"Establishing a human settlement on Mars is an incredibly complex engineering problem," the researchers wrote in a newly-released paper published on the arXiv preprint server.

"The inhospitable nature of the Martian environment requires any habitat to be largely self-sustaining.

"Beyond the technical and engineering challenges, future colonists will also face psychological and human behaviour challenges.

"Our goal is to better understand the behavioural and psychological interactions of future Martian colonists through an Agent-Based Modelling (ABM simulation) approach."

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They added: "We also found that the agreeable personality type was the one more likely to survive."

As well as figuring out who would cope best in a new colony beyond our world, the researchers also found the optimum number of people required to start rebuilding civilisation on another planet.

And it's not that many – just 22 people would do the job, fewer than the number of players on the England football team.

"We find, contrary to other literature, that the minimum number of people with all personality types that can lead to a sustainable settlement is in the tens and not hundreds," the researchers continued.

The 22-strong posse would be forced to work in "high-performing teams" capable of surviving "in isolated and high stress environments".

The research saw the scientists put their simulated settlers in a number of different scenarios to see how they would cope, drawing on similar real-life situations such as being aboard submarines, exploring the Arctic, visiting the International Space Station and even being at war.

The paper didn't specify how close we are to colonising the Red Planet, but SpaceX founder Elon Musk said earlier this year he reckoned it was "possible" for humans to land on Mars in five years, adding that it was "highly likely" within a decade.

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