As the Earth’s population and surface temperature continue to rise exponentially, the questions on many scientists’ minds are: Where to next? Could humanity survive long-term living in deep space? Is there life on Mars? – credits to Bowie for that one

Pancosmorio Theory

With the Pancosmorio theory of human sustainability, we get the “all world limit” which attempts to tackle all these questions.  In order for humans to sustain life in space they need a self-restoring, Earth-like, natural ecosystem.  Life on Earth evolved because of the unique conditions on our planet, that are not replicated elsewhere in our Solar System.  To sustain life on some other planet, this planet needs to be like Earth in order to allow for humanity’s physical and social needs to be fulfilled.

The first factor to survival is gravity.  Humanity has evolved such that our bodies utilize energy most efficiently under Earth’s gravity.  Gravity induces a gradient in the fluid pressure within the body which sustains its functions and without this pressure human beings cannot survive.  There is no other place in our Solar System with the same gravity as Earth, this inevitable gravity imbalance would be detrimental to humanity – not ideal.

The next contributing factor is oxygen.  Earth generates the oxygen necessary for humanity’s survival.  Again, there is no other planet in our solar system that produces oxygen to the extent that Earth does. This is as a result of the myriad of different plant species that grow on Earth which would need to be replicated elsewhere for human survival.  If this system at any point failed to provide oxygen to the human settlement it would mean instant doom.

Another factor is energy.  The energy required to sustain this type of settlement would be enormous.  The further a planet is from the sun the less solar energy the planet receives.  Mars receives less than half the amount of sunlight than we receive here on Earth.  It would be similar to running an electric car on a phone battery.

Well, what about the gravity and oxygen levels on Mars, I hear you asking?  Gravity on Mars is approximately 38% of the surface gravity on Earth.  The oxygen level on Mars is only 0.13% compared to the 21% we experience in Earth’s atmosphere.

Sounds pretty impossible, right?  Does it turn out that Bowie knew nothing about space travel?

Fig 2: Depiction of Life on the Red Planet. Reference: NASA

Life on Mars

Well Elon Musk is on Bowie’s side.  The SpaceX founder maintains that the future of humanity is at stake, and his great plan to save us all from impending doom is to pack us into plus-sized rockets, sardine style, and shoot us all to Mars, as he claims, in a Battlestar Galactica type effort.  His goal is to have transported one million people to Mars by 2050.  He plans to build 100 starships every year over a 10-year period, with each starship leaving for Mars in the key 30-day window that opens every 26 months.  This interval is to take advantage of the period when Earth and Mars are closest in their solar orbits.

Just in case the prospect of being one of the first rocketed to Mars by Musk is sounding appealing to you, here are the simple requirements.  The fee for any brave pioneer is $100,000, the conditions are dangerous and cramped, furthermore Musk remarks, “you might not make it back” – still sound so appealing?

If it does, time to get saving, because according to Musk’s plan the first starship is set to take off in 2028, landing on Mars 6 months later in 2029.  However, there is a slight problem with this goal, his fully integrated starship is yet to reach space.  The main component of the plan, the starship, doesn’t fully exist yet.

Now don’t despair, life on Mars is still possible, Bowie’s dream can still be fulfilled.  NASA is planning on slowly, cautiously sending humans to Mars.  Budding explorers and scientists are due to take their first tentative steps onto the Red Planet in the late 2030s or early 2040s.  NASA is also preparing the adventurers for living on Mars.  In June of this year, four volunteers will participate in a year-long mission living in a habitat that will simulate life on Mars.  During the mission, the crew members will carry out all the tasks that will be necessary for humanity to survive on Mars.  So, I’m not claiming life on Mars is impossible, just that Musk’s timeline needs some work!

If you’re still interested in being one of humanity’s first to set foot on our next-door cosmic neighbour, perhaps going with NASA is your best bet!  Just one request before I sign off, say hi to Matt Damon when you get there.


[1] Irons, Lee G, Irons, Morgan A, (2023), “Pancosmorio (world limit) theory of the sustainability of human migration and settlement in space”,

[2] NASA, “A step towards Mars”,

[3] SpaceX, “Mars and Beyond”,

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