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Scientist Says NASA Must Study Space Sex

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the mars-needs-women dept.

Mars 389

Velcroman1 writes "NASA has always been tight lipped on the subject of sex in space — which makes people all the more curious. How would it work? Has anyone done it before? Can a child be conceived in zero-G? With few animal tests (and virtually no human testing), there's been next to no scientific analysis of the issue. Until now. The Journal of Cosmology has published a special issue detailing the mission to Mars, which touches all the bases. In a chapter titled Sex on Mars, Dr. Rhawn Joseph from the Brain Research Laboratory in California discusses everything from the social conditions that would push astronauts to have sex to the possibility of the first child being born on another planet. Such an infant would be the first real Martian — at least by nationality, the researcher pointed out. 'On Mars, the light's going to be different, the gravity will be different, it's a completely different atmosphere,' he said. 'So if you put an infant on Mars, they would adapt to varying degrees of the new environment. And after several generations, you'd have a new species,' he said."

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389 comments

Several? (3, Insightful)

asifyoucare (302582) | more than 3 years ago | (#34858816)

after several generations you'd have a new species

For large values of several.

Idiot.

Re:Several? (2, Insightful)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34858838)

While you are technically correct, was there any real need to add the insult when correcting an obviously non-native English speaker for a poor choice in words?

Re:Several? (4, Informative)

asifyoucare (302582) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859390)

He is a native English speaker and he meant exactly what he said. Google him.

He also suggests the world will end in 2012 as supposedly predicted by the Mayans, and a lot of other very dubious stuff.

Like I said ...

Re:Several? (3, Insightful)

cforciea (1926392) | more than 3 years ago | (#34858850)

That was my first thought, too. Even then, the actual evolutionary forces would be such that speciation seems so improbable as to be impossible. The environment for colonists would be almost entirely artificial, and it seems doubtful that the color of light on Mars would significantly impact children's ability to grow to adulthood and procreate themselves, especially not with a sample size that is small enough that it wouldn't also be cross-breeding with Earth's population.

The only real scenario I can come up with involves Mars being terraformed and then completely cut off from Earth somehow.

Re:Several? (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34858890)

well, first and foremost I assume you need some sort of selection process to end up with a new species.
I understand that evolution is still happening to the human race, my mother (physician) told me that simply having 2 sexes allows for some sort of evolution.
but anyway, you're right in the sense that as long as we send people to Mars and they don't have a hard time (which would mean selection), than any speciation taking place would be due to selection of those who are sent, not the conditions on Mars.

just like people living at high altitudes are a bit special, but they're not a different species.

Re:Several? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34859060)

Speciation doesn't require selection pressure, it only requires that part of the population reproduces independently for sufficient generations. In the case of humans a generation is typically 20 or 25 years, and 'sufficient generations' depends on the size of the isolated population. Smaller populations drift genetically much faster than large, well-mixed populations. But several thousand generations would be needed as a minimum. So we're looking at somewhere in the region of 40 000 to 50 000 years or more for a new species of human to arise.

Selection pressures cause genetic drift to move in particular directions rather than in random directions. They don't *cause* speciation though they do guide the kinds of change that take place.

Hope that helps.

Re:Several? (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859090)

And that's not the only thing wrong with the article. Like most /.'ers I saw the headline with a mix of amusement and interest and (I know I'm not supposed to), I clicked on the link and RTFA. I was expecting something that was actually an academic paper. But it's filled with shallow analysis, dubious logic and woeful amounts of inappropriate extrapolation. (I mean do we really need to have the extra-marital affair of two astronauts detailed and discussed to use as support for arguments in the general case). And, though I rarely ever use the word these days except when talking about some foreign cultures, the article even manages to come across as sexist since the majority of it seems to be written from the perspective of whether to include females in space flights with the rationale that females cause sex! (Note to critics, it is the combination of these two things that triggers a response of 'sexist'. In my experience, men also, uh, cause sex).

Re:Several? (1)

liteyear (738262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859498)

Could I be so bold as to satisfy all your concerns with one word?

"wooooosh"

I thought it was all very amusing. I read it a week or so ago and when I saw it appear on Slashdot I thought, heh, that'll be some idle entertainment. But now I see indignant criticisms about veracity! The whole thing is a joke! .... right? If, by some gross miscomprehension I'm wrong, then wow, some pearlers have gone begging there.

Re:Several? (4, Insightful)

pacinpm (631330) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859554)

And, though I rarely ever use the word these days except when talking about some foreign cultures, the article even manages to come across as sexist since the majority of it seems to be written from the perspective of whether to include females in space flights with the rationale that females cause sex! (Note to critics, it is the combination of these two things that triggers a response of 'sexist'. In my experience, men also, uh, cause sex).

History of space exploration is a history of man. First man in space, first man on the moon. Most likely first man on Mars. It's fair assumption that we will be adding women to men teams not the other way.

In short: don't be so politically correct. Man and woman are different, they behave differently, they have differnt physical abilities. Giving women right to vote is good thing but it doesn't make them magically equal to man in every way. And by saying that I don't mean women are inferior - they are just different.

Re:Several? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34858852)

The first generation would not survive even one hour outside of the houses that have the exact same atmosphere as on earth.

Re:Several? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34858884)

Eh, what?

Not that I disagree with your point (that they'd still be completely humans, with minor adaptations during growth comparable to i.e. Sherpas vs. the rest of us), but the atmosphere is no way going to be the same as Earth's; why in hell would you load up your dome (or other structure) with 2-3x the pressure stresses needed, and cost yourself more energy pumping airlocks, etc.?!

Re:Several? (1)

snookums (48954) | more than 3 years ago | (#34858996)

Not that I disagree with your point (that they'd still be completely humans, with minor adaptations during growth comparable to i.e. Sherpas vs. the rest of us), but the atmosphere is no way going to be the same as Earth's; why in hell would you load up your dome (or other structure) with 2-3x the pressure stresses needed, and cost yourself more energy pumping airlocks, etc.?!

I recall reading of a study that indicates Sherpas are genetically different from the rest of us, and not simply adapted to high altitudes by virtue of having grown up there. I believe they found some grown-up, American-born children of Nepalese parents who had emigrated, and took them back to Nepal and none of them suffered from altitude sickness at all.

I think there would be a slight natural selection pressure - with those better able to tolerate martian conditions being healthier, and therefore more attractive to the opposite sex (supposing that the colonists were not sent as pre-selected breeding pairs). There's also a possibility that some women would have difficulty conceiving or carrying a child to term on Mars. Those genes would obviously be selected against.

I think a stronger selection pressure would be against some more "mundane" diseases that we can treat easily on Earth but would be a death sentence in a minimally-equipped space colony. Any kind of renal failure and you're probably done for. Diabetes and haemophilia (not that the latter is particularly common) would probably be very troublesome too.

Re:Several? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34859124)

I like this.. a slight selection pressure for tolerance to pressure..

Re:Several? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859012)

This wouldn't even happen.

We'd be working very hard to recreate Earth-like conditions on Mars, so the infant would grow accustomed to Earth-like conditions. Otherwise, everyone would die.

Please, do correct me if I'm wrong, as I'm no expert, but I would have thought that messing with things like atmosphere, diet etc would make the life expectancy of the parents quite short.

Not even then (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34859016)

Speciation will not occur under (presumed) regular interbreeding with the population back home.

Re:Not even then (1)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859248)

On the other hand people who are more suited for marsian environment will stay there, people who are better adapted for marsian colony will stay there. (Just like some people who are better adapted to live at high altitude)

If this can be called a new species is an other discussion. This is kind of sensitive, since you cannot call people with an other skin color an other species currently.

Hint: people with green skin [rdpsd.ab.ca] will be martian.

Re:Not even then (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34859326)

since you cannot call people with an other skin color an other species

Because they don't meet the definition of distinct species.

If two populations can interbreed freely, they are the same species. If you put a bunch of these earth-humans and mars-humans together in a colony and you get a significant number of hybrids, which in turn interbreed with either population, then it's a single species.

At most they could be considered subspecies.

Re:Several? (3, Informative)

CitizenCain (1209428) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859098)

For large values of several.

Not to mention a non-standard definition of "species." As I seem to recall, the biological definition of "species" simply involves whether or not a male and female can create a sexually viable offspring. Hence, donkeys and horses are different species, because mules (what you get when mating a horse and a donkey) are sterile, but different breeds of dogs (or cats or horses or whatever) aren't considered different species because they do create offspring which create offspring and so on (have your pets spayed or neutered!)

I'm really hoping the ESL author meant "race" instead of "species," because even after "large values of several," you'd probably still only end up with a race of Martian humans that are as different from us as our different racial groups are from each other - differences being mostly skin deep.

Re:Several? (1)

Internetuser1248 (1787630) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859166)

Seems like a lot of people here know exactly how the mechanism of speciation works. Care to enlighten the rest of us? Maybe you should write to a science journal.

Re:Several? (1)

gazbo (517111) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859178)

That jumped out at me as well. And I'm not sure that it is just ambiguity over the meaning of 'several': The way he mentions it right after infants adapting to the different conditions, I think...I think he's actually implying Lamarckian evolution is the driving force.

Re:Several? (1)

EdZ (755139) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859198)

Phenotypical adaptations would exhibit within a single generation. Genetic adaptations, if any, would take many thousand generations, and enough to cause speciation would take many times longer than that, even if the effect of immigration from earth were ignored.

Re:Several? (1)

Rhaban (987410) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859444)

after several generations you'd have a new species

For large values of several.

Idiot.

And only if the individuals less adapted to this environment are killed / not allowed to breed. If there is no natural selection and no artificial selection, apparition of a new species is very unlikely.

hmm... (1)

polle404 (727386) | more than 3 years ago | (#34858828)

I guess I wouldn't mind being the progenitor of a new species...
also, it would get me out of my mom's basement, and most likely result in meeting girls?

Sucky part is, I guess they don't have fiber-interweb-tubes on Mars?

Re:hmm... (5, Funny)

igreaterthanu (1942456) | more than 3 years ago | (#34858856)

I guess I wouldn't mind being the progenitor of a new species... also, it would get me out of my mom's basement, and most likely result in meeting girls?

Don't count on it. [slashdot.org]

Re:hmm... (1)

tehniobium (1042240) | more than 3 years ago | (#34858984)

Haha, I figured you'd be pointing to some article about how to get internet to other planets...So I guess I was mildly surprized at what you where actually linking to :) On an entirely related subject: could you get reasonable (albeit high latency) internet on Mars? and come to think of it, how long would it realistically take for one package to be sent back and forth?

Re:hmm... (1)

igreaterthanu (1942456) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859006)

Your latency would be ridiculous almost 40 minutes [wolframalpha.com] but it would be easy enough to get internet there. Although most sites would obviously time out waiting for ACK.

Re:hmm... (1)

tehniobium (1042240) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859042)

Ouch, not worth it I guess :) Or I guess whether or not it is worth it really depends on whether or not there is a willing female astronaut ^_^

Re:hmm... (3, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859268)

There are easier ways to get a girlfriend than going to Mars. And having a girlfriend isn't really worth losing the whole internet, your family, friends, etc.

Okay, it might seem like it for your first girlfriend, but you'll get over it.

Re:hmm... (2)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859082)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/InterPlaNet [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interplanetary_Internet [wikipedia.org]

With such conditions it seems possible the-thing-we-don't-speak-about will see some renaissance at some point.

Re:hmm... (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859274)

With such conditions it seems possible the-thing-we-don't-speak-about will see some renaissance at some point.

AOL? Dear gods.

Conception shouldn't be a problem (4, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34858844)

It's not like "submerged in water" isn't a decent enough approximation (and in fact used by space agencies, but to model different stuff). It's not like humans aren't imaginative, if there's a possibility of some action... (even easier: send slashdotters, we'll do anything) Progress of the pregnancy is another issue of course.

But you wouldn't have new species if there wasn't much of a selection. Not for the usual meaning of "several"

Re:Conception shouldn't be a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34858862)

Well you _might_ get a new species. Six fingers and twenty-nine toes would be an interesting feature that could evolve from a selection of that size.

Sadly, conception can be a problem (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859032)

I knew a couple who really wanted to have kids. The woman had difficulty getting pregnant, and then she had some miscarriages. I was in tears when she told me about the experiences. Her husband is a very wealthy man from Altona, near Hamburg in Germany. The homes in Altona make Hollywood mansions look like a trailer park. She told me that she felt pressure to 'produce' a male heir.

So she took some 'fertility' pills, and a beautiful baby boy came out. But she developed breast cancer six months later, and died from it.

Back to on topic. Can you imagine the pressure of being on Mars, and expected to give birth to a child? Larry King would come back from retirement, and set up a camera team on Mars in your bedroom: "Well, the penis seems to be in the vagina, but we still don't have a pregnancy yet . . ."

I think stress plays a role. When they send some folks on a one way trip to Mars, I guess we will see.

Re:Conception shouldn't be a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34859432)

An urban legend among scuba instructors is that there used to be a speciality course called "Underwater Intercourse" within the PADI dive training program (any instructor can create a speciality course, but I doubt PADI would approve it). Anyway, the idea is certainly out there and I doubt it's never been done.

Re:Conception shouldn't be a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34859508)

(even easier: send slashdotters, we'll do anything)

Sire, I'd honestly prefer my mother's basement being firmly attached to the ground!

Okay, I have to ask... (3, Insightful)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 3 years ago | (#34858876)

Why would anyone wonder about this? From how I see it (and from what I believe to know about the mechanics involved), why should a child not be conceived in zero-G?

When a woman orgasms, her cervix dips into (depending on the position) pool of seed the man released, sucking it in. The female anatomy then helps transport the material to where it belongs, where several spermatozoa work together to crack the female egg shell.

This process is in no way a battle between the little guys to see which is the strongest but a joint effort and the female organism helps them along, too. So while conception might be a bit trickier due to the whole process being slower because of not enough contact with the female anatomy (and thus more time-consuming, possibly to the point where the spermatozoa die before doing their job), I see no reason why it shouldn't be possible.

Re:Okay, I have to ask... (5, Funny)

liamoshan (1283930) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859028)

From how I see it (and from what I believe to know about the mechanics involved)...

When a woman orgasms, her cervix dips into (depending on the position) pool of seed the man released, sucking it in.

Wait, this is how you think sex works? The man orgasms, sex continues, then some time later, the female orgasms and becomes pregnant?!?

If pregnancy depended on the woman orgasming after the man, the accidental pregnancy rate would be close to zero

Re:Okay, I have to ask... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34859254)

From how I see it (and from what I believe to know about the mechanics involved)...

When a woman orgasms, her cervix dips into (depending on the position) pool of seed the man released, sucking it in.

Wait, this is how you think sex works? The man orgasms, sex continues, then some time later, the female orgasms and becomes pregnant?!?

If pregnancy depended on the woman orgasming after the man, the accidental pregnancy rate would be close to zero

Oh, the sex continues. The male just isn't involved. Why do you think women always go to the bathroom after you've finished? They'll spin you some yarn about UTIs, but next time try sneaking up to the door and listening for the heavy breathing.

Re:Okay, I have to ask... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34859056)

(Sorry, I'm not going to waste my cap on youtube so I don't know if ysth has answered this already.)

1. You probably couldn't get a decent erection in microgravity. Your blood pressure would be too low.
2. An embrio can't develop in microgravity.
3. There are a multitude of medical problems involved with microgravity. A kid born there will never be strong enough to be brought back down temporarily. (Giving the body time to strengthen up before it takes another beating.)
3. Lastly,

When a woman orgasms,

is a pretty big assumption ;)

Re:Okay, I have to ask... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34859242)

Before anyone says anything,

I count ONE, TWO, MANY.

So shut up about it.

Re:Okay, I have to ask... (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859134)

Why would anyone wonder about this? From how I see it (and from what I believe to know about the mechanics involved), why should a child not be conceived in zero-G?

Well, I think you are maybe going out on a limb with your assumptions about conception in zero-gee/micro-gravity being easy and a 'no brainer', I have no doubts at all about humans ability to 'adapt, and overcome' any obstacles to getting laid...anywhere, anytime, and under extreme conditions!

I think that exploration of human reproduction in other than 'on earth' environments is a worthy scientific pursuit, but with our current social/cultural/religious attitudes, well, there are bound to be problems...

This very subject has been explored extensively in SciFi works by some very intelligent, educated, 'experienced with humanity and its quirks', creative writers ad nauseam, but the problem with that is it is just speculation and [semi]educational guess work. So we have some guidelines, expectations, and estimations, but no scientifically valid data to work with.

Zero-gee/micro-gravity research has produced both expected and unexpected data to work with...I don't see the reasonable expectation that human reproduction to be different as you seem to.

Maybe gestation gets complicated 'off earth', maybe it doesn't...maybe conception itself is easy like you assume, maybe not...maybe viable delivery is complicated in zero-gee, maybe it becomes simple instead....basically we have NO USEFUL data to even assume or predict at this point, IMHO.

The geek/nerd fantasy still alive in me is insanely curious and imaginative on this subject, but I'm old enough to be a realist to be satisfied to be a voyeur/spectator for 'porn in OUTER SPACE!'
And yes, I am old enough to be captivated by "Barbarella" before the actress[Jane Fonda] became despised as 'Hanoi Jane'!

*disclaimer: I am also a NASA brat, and former NASA employee...I watched J.F.K.'s speech...'live' that started the so called space race to put us on the moon ahead of the Soviets.*

Proven Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34859348)

Tests were actually done on the "upsuck" theory and its been proven incorrect

http://www.ted.com/talks/mary_roach_10_things_you_didn_t_know_about_orgasm.html

semen is much lighter than males (5, Interesting)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34858902)

If the objective were really to populate another planet wouldn't it make more sense to send a bunch of fertile women and a bunch of semen instead of males? The semen would be a lot lighter(big deal when you are talking space travel), require less resources to keep alive etc. Furthermore you could increase genetic variability by having semen from a bunch of males without increasing the number of people sent. Seems like we really are unnecessary guys :P

Re:semen is much lighter than males (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34858942)

Seems like we really are unnecessary guys :P

Who do you think produces the semen in the first place? That's right. Now let's gets to work! Yeah! :o

Re:semen is much lighter than males (2)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34858946)

Why only semen? [wikipedia.org] (plus small initial stock of women, of course - especially in our system, it will be most likely more viable / sooner than artificial uteri and surrogate mother robots)

Numerically, it might very well be the main mode of human transportation between the colonies... (as you said, they will need genetic diversity) in deep hibernation / we can do it already! Embryos or their precursors.

Re:semen is much lighter than males (5, Funny)

Obvius (779709) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859026)

Until there's a spider in the bathtub :p

Re:semen is much lighter than males (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34859088)

+1

Kudos.

Re:semen is much lighter than males (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34859052)

We are not useless....Jar of pickles dont open by themselves

Re:semen is much lighter than males (1)

Tom (822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859300)

Successful reproduction does not end at the insemination stage. While we still have a long way to go to understand the whole process, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the father is as important as the mother to a developing child, although in a different way.

Re: Fathers as important as mothers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34859412)

1) Citation needed. Children of single mothers/lesbian parents/work-away-from-home fathers develop perfectly normally.
2) Sperm from a male is not necessary at all, the reason you can't combine two eggs are epigenetic and progress has been made in recent years. Some bright sparks amongst you would notice that two woman would only be able to have daughters (but if they were conceived and raised without men this isn't really a problem).

Personally, I go around tightening jars as opening them seems to be my only role as a man :-p

Re:semen is much lighter than males (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34859320)

...because if you only send females then they would arrive without any hair and half of them would have their eyes scratched out.

*ducks*

Only half of the equation.... (0)

rts008 (812749) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859370)

Seems like we really are unnecessary guys

I would beg to differ with, sir.
History can document the fact that women actually LIKE SEX. Think about that a little, do some research even.

Whether you attribute it to 'God made it that way', 'Mother Nature/Giaa intended it that way', we're hard-wired for the continuation of our species, or whatever, it is a recognizable and documented fact that both genders of the human species have been almost obsessed with sex and reproduction from day one.

*now I tap-dance on the hyperbole line*
It is also well documented that there are inherent differences between human genders:
we males are seemingly hard-wired physically and mentally to be larger and stronger, territorial, and agressive to help further the chances of our species survival. The female gender seems to be hard-wired to use these traits to our species survival advantage.
I see this apparent in the Yin-Yang philosophy most profoundly...male and female being constructs that both seem to be opposites, yet complimentary to the 'whole' of humanity.

Or to use a different example:
*disclaimer* I am a 'Country-Boy', not a 'city boy'.
While the alpha-male Grizzly may rule his Territory/Domain, even he does not mess with Mama-Bear and her young/cubs with impunity.
On a more personable anecdote,
I have seen a Highland Scottish Terrier mother[with a mongrel border collie/timid father] @ 8Kg., defend her litter quite aggressively and effectively against an 80 KG. Alaskan Malamute. The 80 Kg. AM male tucked his tail and fled the scene, yet over-all, he dominated the territory.
Screwy social dynamics, and instructive, if you ask me.

*Offtopic: For my fellow USAians:
Mama Dog weighed in at about 16-20 pounds, the Malamute weighed in at around 160-180 pounds. Yes, I am USAian, but I am more comfortable with the metric system:-)

Cosmopolitan vs Journal of Cosmology (4, Funny)

weston (16146) | more than 3 years ago | (#34858932)

The Journal of Cosmology has published a special issue...which touches all the bases. In a chapter titled Sex on Mars...

Are we sure we got the right "Cosmo" here?

Re:Cosmopolitan vs Journal of Cosmology (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 3 years ago | (#34858990)

"Get hot with our list of raunchy space cowboy positions!" - Story on pg 13

Volunteer (1)

xantonin (1973196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34858950)

So where do we go to volunteer for this project? I'll totally take a hit for the human race and impregnate a chick in space.

Re:Volunteer (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859030)

You'll probably need some demonstratable knowledge of the mission goals, so that pretty much rules out /. regulars.

I doubt no testing (5, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 3 years ago | (#34858970)

Virtually no human testing? Given the kind of person who gets into the astronaut corps, I seriously doubt that. There's probably been no official investigation into this done, but when you coop seven mixed-gender, highly intelligent, very curious, extremely goal-driven, competitive problem-solvers up in a small ship for the lengths of time a shuttle mission runs, I think we can pretty much guarantee there's been plenty of unofficial investigations conducted. And there's been IIRC several mixed-gender ISS crews, so ditto there.

I also suspect they've found the entire exercise to be awkward, exhausting (and not in the good way), inconvenient to arrange around all the monitoring that's done, difficult to keep private in those cramped quarters, and generally an awful lot of work for a lot less reward than you'd expect. But if anybody wants to go to Mars they're going to have to figure out how to deal with sex and how to make it reasonably convenient, because no crew's going to remain completely celibate that long.

Re:I doubt no testing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34859094)

It was tried out 17 years ago in Endeavour with chicken eggs [nih.gov] and guess what happened...

They all died :-(

Just count the sons of female astronauts which birth date is prior to landing + nine months, but I guess they are none.

Re:I doubt no testing (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34859402)

We could send catholic priests...oh wait

Gravity and embryonic development (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34858976)

There have been some amusing studies on quail and development in microgravity. It was hypothesized that gravity might be necessary for proper development. I haven't read any papers on it, but I've heard the embryos seemed pretty normal. Suggests that human embryos might develop normally too.

Not entirely surprising. Embryos and their mothers or eggs carrying them can be oriented any way with no obvious defects in development. I mean, I'm guessing not many pregnant women will want to stand on their heads for a long time to determine if there would be problems in space, but my point is there doesn't seem to be a "right" up and down orientation, which you might expect if gravity were playing a role in development.

Same goes for conception. There are plenty of urban legends about conception and sex position, but if gravity were essential for conception, I'd expect we'd know which way it had to be pulling for conception to happen. If, for example, you had to be laying down for sperm to know which direction to swim, you'd think it would be common knowledge that if you remain standing after sex, you won't get pregnant. That doesn't seem to be the case, and it's hard for me to imagine how gravity could be essential to conception but -wouldn't- need to have a specific orientation to contribute.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34858988)

They could start by interviewing their astronauts, for it already happened.

Sterilize the men, but carry frozen semen (2)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 3 years ago | (#34858998)

It would probably be safest to simply allow sex, since it's going to happen anyway, you might as well regulate it to make sure it does not go out of control. Married couples are probably the best bet, even though nothing's for certain. I think that the likelihood of divorce probably decreases when you bear the responsibility of causing a Mars mission to fail.
To avoid accidental pregnancy, simply sterilize the men, it's a simple procedure.
Then, if the goal is to colonize Mars and actually have pregnancies there, transport the frozen semen of the husbands to inseminate their wives, along with frozen semen from other men to use with some of the female offspring to avoid incest.
There, all problems solved!

Re:Sterilize the men, but carry frozen semen (5, Funny)

rhyder128k (1051042) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859358)

"Married couples are probably the best bet"

We're talking about a stress-filled, claustrophobic situation in which there would be no possibility of sex for months at a time, if not years. And space travel too.

Send sexually uninhibited people (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859084)

What if, instead of being all afraid of "o my god, they might have sex", you embrace the issue and actually send people who are very open about sex, maybe couples who are used to partner swapping and foursomes etc.
No stress, no "cheating" (since it's not), sex is just something you do, like a sport. It wouldn't be hard to find people like that. Of course you should still avoid zero-G pregnancy, but contraceptives or sterilization are not exactly rocket science.
On top of that, as an added bonus, video feeds from the mission can serve to provide funding for several further missions!

"After several generations" (3, Funny)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859092)

Indeed, humans have Borg-like powers of genetic adaptation, so that several generations of living in an extraterrestrial habitat that has been technologically rendered as Earth-like as possible would cause them to spontaneously mutate to the point of sexual incompatibility with normal humans (the normal definition of separate species).

Re:"After several generations" (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859232)

No the species would need a bit of help. Simply kill all the babies that weren't green with antennae and you'd have martian's in no time.

Re:"After several generations" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34859338)

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Rocket Man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34859110)

Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact it's cold as hell
And there's no one there to raise them if you did

Obligatory TFA quote (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859174)

any difficulties associated with sexual intercourse in space may turn out to be an easily solved problem of docking and entry as human are notorious for inventing ways of having sex despite all manner of logistical impediments

Oh the insinuations are infinite!

Foetal development (2)

Necroloth (1512791) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859194)

Rather than just the intercourse aspect, I would like to see studies on the development in the womb and childbirth whilst in zero-g. Understand the effects of zero-to-lighter than earth gravity will have on the baby's development.

Fox news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34859196)

So... are we linking to fox news now? News for nerds... stuff that matters?... really?

Not so bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34859220)

I would prefer if they stay tight-lipped.
Tight is definitely a plus! :-)

Rhawn Joseph (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34859222)

Rhawn Joseph is an utter bluff whose academic merits and opinions are as empty as his writings. Check your sources before posting please.

non sense on speciation (2)

aepervius (535155) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859252)

"And after several generations, you'd have a new species,' he said."

I seriously doubt he said that, or he is not a biologist worth its salt (no I did not read the *fox news* article). The only way to have a new specie , is only if there are mutation which happens to make the new baby to be more adapted to the new environment, and this is selected for, NOT because they grow there and are getting use to the environment (in the latest case, such a person having baby on earth would have baby identical to any other human). I seriously doubt this would happen in several generation only, most probably you would need much more by 1 or 2 order of magnitude to see a real new specie.

New Species? (2)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859280)

" And after several generations, you'd have a new species".

Erm, unlikely.

After several 1000 generations, if children with mutations are allowed to develop, you may have a new species.

Darwin would shot himself dead if he read this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34859398)

You would have no new species in Mars at all, since evolution is based in competition for life and death of the less adapted ones, which does not happen with humans anymore. We make devices to adapt ourselves to diverse circumstances so humans don't die because of being not adapted to environments unless a mutation makes some specimens fit for such environments and survive, by consequence, we don't evolve into new species. Some people in the NASA obviously need to review the evolution theory.

Infrastructure? (4, Interesting)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859400)

I have a hard time imagining that we would be willing or able to develop the infrastructure for children to grow up on Mars anytime soon. It is one thing to send (adult) astronauts to Mars, they can wear the same sized space suit pretty much until they die. But if you send a child (or a pregnant woman) to Mars, the growing child will need far more of everything in order to survive. I understand that space suits are not exactly cheap to manufacture here on earth - can you imagine trying to make on one Mars? And if a child on Mars grew at anywhere near the rate they grow on Earth, the wait time to ship a new suit from Earth would likely be completely unacceptable.

And that says nothing about the piles of diapers, or the need for something resembling a proper education, or proper pediatric care and nutrition...

I just don't see it being reasonable to have children on Mars until we have a sizable established population of adults there for a reasonably long time. And at that, we might want to wait until we have figured out the round trip (although a long car ride with a child can be infuriating - I can't imagine what interplanetary transport would be like!).

"virtually no human testing" (1)

vikstar (615372) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859428)

I demand references on the testing that practically/literally did occur, that would justify your use of "virtually".

Volunteer! (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859516)

I volunteer to help NASA scientists with this study! Now they just need to shoot me in space and find me some sex partners, all in the name of science!

Zero G (1)

Jarnin (925269) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859530)

Why is it that every time someone writes an article about procreation in space, they bring up the microgravity question over and over? I get that they're basing their assumptions off of the technology that we use now, but seriously, this stuff isn't going to happen with the technology we use now. It'll be using technology of the future, near or distant. A space station utilizing rotational gravity via centrifugal acceleration can be made to simulate Earth gravity. Slow it down a little and suddenly you have Martian gravity. Slow it down a little more and you've got Lunar gravity. No reason to dip yourself in a gravity well.

Yes, a space station that uses centrifugal acceleration is complicated and would be expensive by today's standards, but again, think about 50 or 75 years in the future. The ISS will be deorbited by then. Will they stop there, or will they make another one? What features and advantages will it have over the ISS? How long with the ISS II be up there? Will they build another one after that? What features will that generation of space station have?

I don't think we'll have to worry about procreation in space for the near future. Right now it's more of a scientific curiosity than an actual need, but that will change if we continue to expand into space. By that point our space technologies will have advanced to the point where it will no longer be a concern.

More like (1)

kikito (971480) | more than 3 years ago | (#34859536)

Several *thousand* generations. Evolution doesn't work that quick, unless Mars is made of Mutagen-x.

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