The Dutch nonprofit Mars One aim to send four humans to Mars in 2024 (two years later than in their original timeline) for a 2025 landing on the Red Planet. These four intrepid colonists will be joined by 4 more two years later, and then 4 more two years after that, until the colony reaches 24. Or at least, that’s the plan. But according to strategic engineering graduate students at MIT, the strategy, as it currently exists, may prove problematic. Unless the program makes some fundamental changes to its approach, the researchers predict that the new colony will be unsustainable and deadly for the colonists.
The team developed a simulation of the settlement, per Mars One’s stated mission design. That simulation provided them with a tool to measure and predict how using the resources on the planet, growing crops, and future resupply efforts, will play out. Of course, this is just a model—no one can say with certainty how the mission will unfold, but creating and studying such models is one of strategy any Mars colonization mission organizers should rely on for insight about how to make their mission safer and, hopefully, more successful.