Charles Cockell from Edinburgh University described the various difficulties space colonists may face, but he highlighted that the biggest concern could very well be a very old and well-known one: food security.
Cockell stresses that colonizers must ensure that agriculture and crop systems function properly, otherwise they may find themselves in a similar situation to Sir John Franklin’s Arctic exploration in 1845, which resulted in the crew cannibalizing each other.
“Franklin’s crew tried to find the northwest passage on ships in the late 19th century,” the astrobiology professor said. Metro. “They were the most sophisticated pieces of technology available at the time.”
“They had canned food, which was the new technology, and yet they got lost, stranded, and they ended up degenerating into cannibalism,” he explained. “If you put a group of people on Callisto, it starts to go wrong and the plant growth module breaks down, they get to eat each other if there is no other way to survive.”
Dr. Cameron Smith, en co-founder from Pacific Spaceflight, agreed that it would prove crucial to “establish a really good agricultural system and deploy a lot of stored food.”
Smith proposed that trade would provide the largest source of income and sustainable resources, just like early colonies of the 17th and 18th centuries.
“These settlements had (minimal) contact with other agricultural villages – much like an early colony,” he explained.
He also noted that in the case of the Uruguayan Old Christians Club rugby team, which survived a plane crash in the Andes by only cannibalizing the dead – a dismal outcome, but one which he believed showed that even a serious outcome can occur without collapse in order.
The professors argued for different target locations for such colonies, with Cockell choosing moons around Jupiter and Saturn, while Smith suggested that the asteroid belt could provide the best potential.