Individual Hominin Biology Beyond Earth

  • Cameron M. SmithEmail author
Part of the Space and Society book series (SPSO)


This chapter covers the biology of the individual human (or, more broadly, hominin) in environments beyond Earth; I consider the essential properties of such environments, such as gas composition and pressure, and gravity field, but I must emphasize that decades of biology research in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) have not furnished humanity with significant information regarding the properties of environments beyond Earth we are most likely to settle for some centuries. Mars or lunar settlements will not be at 0 g, as in LEO (where a great deal of space biology research has been done), but at 0.38 g (Mars) or 0.16 g (Moon), and molecular, cellular and larger-scale physiological processes will certainly differ in such environments. What in fact have nearly three decades of continuous biology research in LEO taught us? Something about what we might encounter if we choose to fly to Mars without rotation for artificial gravitation for about 100 days–but, to be blunt, that is about it. As regards the long-term human settlement of space it is arguable that not much learned from microgravity research is directly applicable. But we must begin somewhere—and I will note that in 2016, NASA began to fund artificial gravity research—and in this chapter I review the issues of the individual human beyond Earth, specifically tracking effects on development through the course of life.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA

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