A California researcher is urging NASA to (seriously) study the effects of space on human sexual behavior and procreation.
In a journal chapter titled "Sex on Mars," Dr. Rhawn Joseph analyzes a number of possible scenarios, including social conditions that could encourage astronauts to have sex, along with the (perhaps inevitable) birth of a child on another planet.
"Human beings are sexual. They think about it a lot. So if you're on a trip to Mars, it's going to be dark out, you'll be in a long period of isolation, and there's not going to be a lot to do. There's a definite possibility that it could happen," Joseph told FoxNews.
According to Joseph, a Mars expedition is currently estimated to last at least two years in duration: nine months to travel to the red planet, three months for scientific study, and then nine months to return.
Obviously, emotional bonds are likely to form between astronauts, and Joseph believes the scientific community should understand such effects long before an exploratory mission to Mars is actually launched.
"The Antarctic is comparable to space: It's extremely cold down there and you spend a lot of time indoors. So NASA and lot of organizations think that's a great analog to what it'll be like on Mars.
"And we see that researchers will go down there for extended periods of time in these extremely hostile conditions, and women will get pregnant. It's just part of normal behavior."
Joseph added that NASA and other space agencies should be well prepared for all contingencies related to sex and procreation in space.
"Send husbands and wives into space to have sex and do studies on it. It's got to be done if the long range goal is to go to other planets."