My understanding of biology is that all living organisms adapt to the environment around them. I would even say the environment shapes the very essence of an organism.

Gravity alone is a huge factor and will be the most imminent one. It is what I am most interested in this question but I believe there will be a number of other strong factors.

Example - Due to fact the food is being manufactured it could be an effective way to feed a population by only liquid or gel food (maybe a few pills or something). Intravenal food would be the next step. That will greatly reduce the amount of energy needed for digestion... changing our bodies in the process.

This doesn't only involve humans. The genetic information in Escherichia coli can be modified to suit human needs better on Mars...

Eyes can be adapted to low light vison.

Space perception will change a lot due to the fact that nobody on Mars will be able to experience open space... at least not in the early generations.

Our sound perception will change. Martians will only hear the sounds they or their machines create... other than that maybe howling wind.

This all will have an impact on the brain structure as well. In very close connection with modern technology...

The list goes on and on... it leads me to one conclusion. It is way more effective to a adapt human body to the new conditions than to artificially create conditions that exist only on Earth and can never exist on Mars. So... Is there any SpaceX vision what adaptation process will the colonists go through?

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    $\begingroup$ Gene-manipulation before we even fully understand basic habitation we could use to survive on Mars? I'd doubt it. If there was any such effort, it would likely be thwarted almost immediately by ethical road-blocks. $\endgroup$ – Magic Octopus Urn Jan 15 '19 at 14:32
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    $\begingroup$ Humans have been changing their environment to better suit their needs for millennia. Over the years, we have learned to survive in the hottest, coldest, deepest, highest, wettest, driest, and most lethal locations on earth and beyond. All the while, our bodies have remained relatively unchanged from our early ancestors. I disagree with your premise that it's more effective to adapt the human body to the environment than it is to change the environment to suit the human body. $\endgroup$ – Nuclear Hoagie Jan 15 '19 at 14:48
  • $\begingroup$ Nice and fair argument. I appreciate it...I actually completely agree. But how do we bring gravity of Earth to surface of Mars? $\endgroup$ – Miroslav Řešetka Jan 15 '19 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ Giving people from Nepal thumbsup during application process perhaps? No I seriosly dont know... Yes - humans have always found a way how to change the environment but this is different. We have never faced anything even close to this. And Africa was colonized by Europeans partly also because of developed medicine (before all attempts failed and invadors just died because they were ill...). And that is not alteration of environment but adaptation of humans. $\endgroup$ – Miroslav Řešetka Jan 15 '19 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ I consider modern medicine to be alteration of humans. People with peacemaker or smartphane are in fact cyborks - altered humans. So I believe both is equaly correct - Yes we adapt the environment. But we adapt ourselves as well. I dont think we should underestimate it and just go try to see what happens.... $\endgroup$ – Miroslav Řešetka Jan 15 '19 at 15:30

No. SpaceX is a space launch company, not a genetic engineering company. That branch of science lies completely outside their research. Never mind the ethical aspect: the astronauts are volunteers, you don't breed people to produce 'optimal astronauts'!

That's not to say if someone (some other company) comes up with this sort of adaptations, and people pick them up, and people with this sort of enhancements apply for astronaut at SpaceX, they would be outright rejected; it's just that SpaceX does nothing in that specific direction. They may accept it if it comes knocking at their door, but won't move towards 'engineering' 'the perfect astronaut' - especially that they have their plate full with research of the rocket and no spare budget to diversify into a branch so different from what they are doing.

  • $\begingroup$ I completeley understand. Thanks for a very nice answer....it was very politically correct. I was not trying to state ethic perspective...I am genuinely interested in the inevitable changes for the new generations born on Mars. I personaly think it is awsome... $\endgroup$ – Miroslav Řešetka Jan 15 '19 at 11:46
  • $\begingroup$ @MiroslavŘešetka: The main problem besides the concept of genetically engineering humans being ethically questionable lies in the fact a single gene is responsible for multiple very different traits, many of them completely unknown. Any desirable adaptation will be inevitably accompanied with other mutations, which may or may not be desirable, known, or even survivable. $\endgroup$ – SF. Jan 15 '19 at 11:53
  • $\begingroup$ While currently we'd be able to 'engineer' a human with a specific set of positive adaptations the result will be a mess that likely won't leave fetus stage due to all the side effects, and the road to understanding and mitigating these is very long and not likely to be achievable even long after SpaceX launch to Mars. $\endgroup$ – SF. Jan 15 '19 at 11:53
  • $\begingroup$ ...well hopefully it will end up well... Because the changes will happen if SpaceX plan for them or not. And the conditions will be like nothing on this planet. It will be mutations we have never seen before. We have no idea what efect it can have on metabolics on celular levels. In my opinion people should be responsible and plan for consequences of their actions...So I hope the new colonists will have the equipement and knowledge to monitor the biological adaptation process...mother nature might need our help with this one $\endgroup$ – Miroslav Řešetka Jan 15 '19 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ @MiroslavŘešetka: It's quite likely the first set of colonists will all die from causes completely unforeseen - but their sacrifice will serve as lessons for the consecutive ones, to come prepared for these. $\endgroup$ – SF. Jan 15 '19 at 12:17

SpaceX has no plans to change people's genomes because the technology does not exist yet. Retrofitting genes to adults is still some way off, and designer children is still very experimental and extremely controversial.

  • $\begingroup$ I have to dissagree...Technology to alter genetic information humans posses for thousands of years. We used it on dogs, vine...well now when I think about on amlost everything. The only difference is that now we understand little bit more what we have been doing all that time. $\endgroup$ – Miroslav Řešetka Jan 15 '19 at 13:54
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    $\begingroup$ Eyes cannot be "adapted" @MiroslavŘešetka. You can do selective breeding and hope that the eyes the next generation gets are more suited, however that would 1) take many generations to work and 2) require a very wide genetic pool to choose from which you aren't going to get with a few colonists. $\endgroup$ – GdD Jan 15 '19 at 14:00
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    $\begingroup$ The words - the tenet of a professional dog breed creator: Breed a lot, kill all that don't meet the expectations, early. That's the 'Technology to alter genetic information' we possessed for thousands of years in a variant that allows for a semi-realistic timespan. Simply put the research will necessarily result in lots and lots of failures - and each of these failures will be a human being. $\endgroup$ – SF. Jan 15 '19 at 14:24
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    $\begingroup$ Your question is more about genetics than actual plans to change them it seems @MiroslavŘešetka, perhaps you should ask the question on Genetics.SE. However, you need to express it better as I am not sure I understand it fully. $\endgroup$ – GdD Jan 15 '19 at 14:42
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    $\begingroup$ @MiroslavŘešetka Dogs become sexually mature at 6 to 12 months of age. Humans require 15–30 times as long to become sexually mature, which makes human genetic adaptation much slower. People have known about the principles of animal breeding for at least hundreds of years, but intensive breeding of humans has not been attempted and is, to say the least, disreputable. $\endgroup$ – WaterMolecule Jan 15 '19 at 16:56

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