You’ve seen it in science fiction movie space missions, the astronauts go into a deep hibernation sleep in a pod and when they wake up they’ve been in space for months or even years and they’ve slept all the way to their destination. This pod-hibernation may soon be a reality as scientist research the possibilities of using this strategy for a manned-mission to Mars, reports Discovery News on Oct. 6.
Mars is 180-days away from the Earth and that is not only a long time to travel, but so many supplies would be needed to feed the astronauts for such a long period of time. They would also need room for exercise, a galley for food preparation and sleeping quarters. This hibernation sleeping cuts all this down along with keeping the cabin fever out of a 180-day trip.
The medical community has used therapeutic torpor since the ‘80s and since 2003 it has been the common treatment for critical care trauma patients in hospitals. The therapeutic hypothermia is used in medical settings to keep the patient alive until they can get the life-saving treatment they need.
Scientists who are looking at this hibernation sleep for a space crew are also researching the different strategies for keeping the crew from suffering muscle and bone loss from being stationary for so long. One of the designs includes a spinning habitat to provide an environment that is low-gravity, which would offset any loss to bones and muscles.
The Space Works’ study is funded by NASA and while it looks to be a future possibility, just how far into the future you can expect this to become a possibility is not known, according to CNET.com today. Electrodes providing timed electrical pulses to muscles is also another strategy they are looking at. This therapeutic sleep has not been used for any longer than seven days in the medical field, so it would have to be tested and retested numerous times to safely hit the 180-day mark!
A hibernating crew is fed and hydrated intravenously, cutting the need for consumables way down, according to the Geek.com today. Overall with the ship’s sleeping crew, they would need a ship capable of carrying 220 tons, which is cut way down from the 400 tons they would need if the crew were awake for the 180-day one-way trip.
It would take a special kind of person to agree to get knocked out and travel through space for the first time to Mars. It would be like going to bed at night and waking up the next morning on Mars. Time doesn’t matter when you’re sleeping. If you were to stay awake for the 180-day trip, for sure some type of space cabin fever would pop-up. This way you travel in what feels like the time it takes to get a good night’s sleep.