Alienating Mars: Challenges of Space Colonization

Human bodies are optimized for life on Earth, and ill-equipped for environments like those we will find on Mars. But here at home there are organisms that do thrive in the extremes: the coldest, hottest, driest, and saltiest places. As gene editing technologies like CRISPR enable us to rewrite our own DNA, there may be adaptive tools we can borrow from these extremophiles. But while we are absorbed in self-preservation, it will be easy to neglect the planet we hope to colonize. After all, humans do not have the best track record when it comes to ethical exploration. While there is no evidence for life on Mars—yet—there is the matter of an entire land that has no one to speak for it, or to defend it. So in the process of getting humans to Mars, what values may be compromised along the way?

Programming descriptions are generated by participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SXSW.

photo of Brooke Grindlinger
Brooke Grindlinger

New York Academy of Sciences

photo of Kennda Lynch
Kennda Lynch

Lunar and Planetary Institute

photo of Christopher Mason
Christopher Mason

Weill Cornell Medicine

photo of Lucianne Walkowicz
Lucianne Walkowicz

The Adler Planetarium

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