Human failure

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settlers on Mars will live under special circumstances, possibly causing psychological problems, and rely completely on technology for survival. This page is meant to develop preventive concepts to make the colony safe against catastrophic risks as a result of human failures.

Technical precautions

The Fail-safe principles are mandatory for buildings and vital systems. It must not be possible for a single person create a situation that causes a complete failure in the settlement. This can be done using either delayed response times to certain commands, levels of authorization, physical separation of habitats and systems and controlled access.

Psychological surveillance

Periodic testing and group training can help to diagnose and counteract psychological illnesses early. Those for whom a psychological problem is detected can carry a key which will not allow them to make choices for which it is known that they are not psychologically fit. This might be analogous to security bracelets for certain types of criminals today on Earth. Psychological testing is not error free, so, as on Earth, review protocols would be required.


Children and adolescents are unpredictable and have limited judgement. They might open a door that should not be opened.

  • Each colonists could carry a personal key indicating that colonist's level of authority. A child's key would not open doors that are dangerous to open at the wrong time and would not open or close valves or switches that are dangerous to operate at the wrong time.
  • Keyed access systems are generalized on Earth and will be used in Space as well.


There might be the risk of somebody running amok, endangering the whole colony. There are many vital system that might be attacked. This risk and the implications can be mitigated by the same precautions as are used on earth for vital infrastructures.


Terrorism can be countered on an individual level by personnel screening, on a systems level by access control or on a design level by limiting the possible impact of a terrorist's attack.