Women are better suited to Mars mission than men, says science

22 Oct 2014

Kate Greene in her specially designed spacesuit as part of the Hi-SEAS experiment. Image via Hi-SEAS

The tired saying, ‘men are from Mars, women are from Venus’, couldn’t be more untrue, according to those who took part in an experiment to see what it’s like to live on the Red Planet.

As part of the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (Hi-SEAS) programme, six scientists volunteered to live in an abandoned quarry on the side of the Manua Loa volcano in Hawaii to simulate life on Mars.

As part of their four-month stint, they would be required to live exactly how they would on the planet, including living entirely off what they were supplied with at the start of their experiment and tracking how fast they went through their supplies while being cooped up in such an environment.

However, according to one of the researchers from the experiment charged with measuring the crew’s intake of food, as well as measuring their sleep cycle, women were more efficient and less costly than men.

Men and calories, the ‘burning issue’

Kate Greene wrote of her experiences in Slate. The average calorie burn of the three women and three men on the initial Hi-SEAS crew amounted to about 3,450 calories for men, while women doing the same amount of work burned off almost 2,000 fewer calories, at 1,475 calories.

Greene attributes these differences to the fact the men often ate larger portions than their female counterparts, which during a mission to Mars would be vitally important as more food means more weight for the spacecraft, which then increases fuel costs.

She also cited psychological studies, which suggest men show considerably less ability to exist in isolation or deprived of ‘sensory outputs’.

Based on this research, Greene feels, despite diversity being important, if getting humans to Mars means females only, then so be it.

“Based on my HI-SEAS experience, I tend to agree (that diversity is key). Still, if the bottom line is what matters in getting to Mars, the more women the better.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic