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Research into how fish cope with cold dark conditions could unlock human travel to deep space.

Scientists have been struggling with the problems caused by prolonged space travel on the human body.

Astronauts suffer from loss of body mass and muscle wasting, and it is feared that high levels of radiation in space could damage our hearts and cause arteries to narrow and harden.

NASA researchers started looking at how fish physiology changes when they go into a state known as torpor – a condition similar to sleep and hibernation in other animals. Fish metabolisms can slow down when temperatures drop under 5ºC.

It was hoped that such a metabolic change could make space travel to Mars a viable proposition if induced in humans.

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