It's going to take us a few months to travel to mars in our spaceships. Will the relatively small size of the ship combined with a few months of "isolation" result in Mars being disease free until either we build bigger ships or faster propulsion?

  • $\begingroup$ Lots of things (e.g. anthrax) can survive in spore form forever. It only takes one teensy not-sterile thing, like a person's skin, to carry some bad stuff along. $\endgroup$ Apr 22, 2020 at 12:34
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    $\begingroup$ You may get sick from bacteria living normally on the surface or inside your body. For instance a bladder infection from escheria coli living in your lower intestine. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Apr 22, 2020 at 19:27

1 Answer 1


Not completely, for a number of reasons, but in theory there should be less disease than on Earth.

Some diseases last for a very long time, like AIDS. Things like the flu will have a really hard time making it to Mars. Some diseases have few symptoms, which makes them easier to hide. Lastly, things in space just tend to end up really germy.

As a whole, with a bit of work, Mars could remain mostly disease free, however, proper precautions still must be taken.

For some comparison, the voyage time from Europe to North America was about 3 months early on. Disease still managed to cross that gap. No doubt the same thing would happen going to Mars, although I still suspect there would be less colds/ flu/ etc on Mars than on Earth.

  • $\begingroup$ What is supporting your conclusion? Also, what would be the pre-launch quarantine time for mars settlers as part of the "bit of work". $\endgroup$
    – eckes
    Apr 21, 2020 at 20:15
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    $\begingroup$ For one example, varicella-zoster virus will have no trouble making it to Mars. Most people who've had chickenpox will carry it in latent form for the rest of their lives, and can transmit it if it ever reactivates as shingles. $\endgroup$ Apr 21, 2020 at 20:50
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    $\begingroup$ @eckes: Some expeditions to Mir and the ISS have lasted longer than a Mars trip would. Yet both stations had a thriving community of microbial flora, including various Staph and Strep species that act as opportunistic infections (normally living on hard surfaces and human skin, but dangerous when growing in the wrong parts of the body). $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Apr 22, 2020 at 0:27
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    $\begingroup$ Not to mention that there are a myriad of species in the human microbiome ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4848870 Any one of these could mutate to cause a disease. Indeed, some dying off or becoming imbalanced WRT others can cause diseases. Consider E. coli, for one notable instance: cdc.gov/ecoli/general/index.html $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Apr 22, 2020 at 5:08
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    $\begingroup$ No sources and 4 upvotes? $\endgroup$
    – spacetyper
    Apr 22, 2020 at 5:26

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