Could Space Explorers Turn Into Cannibals if Food Was Scarce? Two Scientists Believe So

Things can turn very dark in space if we're not properly prepared.
Loukia Papadopoulos

We have all heard of the plans to colonize Mars with SpaceX declaring it is preparing for a mission as early as 2026. But living there is a whole other story with scientists trying to come up with all kinds of ways to make the Red Planet inhabitable including terraforming it.

Now, two scientists speaking to Metro.co.uk are stating that the main problem with colonizing other planets would be getting food which would result in space explorers becoming cannibals. Charles Cockell, a professor of astrobiology at Edinburgh University, and Dr. Cameron Smith, a Portland State University anthropologist, both suggested Jupiter’s moon Callisto and Saturn’s counterpart Titan as possible destinations but did not shy away from expressing the dangers of inhabiting these new planets.

To avoid a grim future, the experts suggested humans first try inhabiting closer space destinations such as the Moon and Mars where help from Earth is closer and more readily available and where technologies for colonizing the planets can be tested and perfected.

"The systems have to be really reliable and that’s why they need to be tested before. That’s based on historical situations — Franklin’s crew tried to find the northwest passage on ships in the late 19th century — they were the most sophisticated pieces of technology available at that time. They had tinned food, which was the new technology — and yet, they got lost, stranded and they ended up degenerating into cannibalism," said Cockell. "So even with the best technology, isolated human communities can degenerate very quickly. If you put a group of people on Callisto, things start going wrong and the plant growth module breaks down, they are going to eat each other if there is no other way to survive."

Smith also suggested humans first master proper farming and food sustainability methods before heading out to outer space. Luckily, Cockell argued that the technology to properly colonize other planets already exists making the habitation of Mars possible in 30 to 40 years. There is one caveat, however, argued Cockell, this technology must be thoroughly tested here on Earth before it's ever deployed in space.

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