The first astronauts who head off to Mars might make the entire 180-day journey while they’re fast asleep. In a NASA-commissioned study on human stasis, aerospace engineers at SpaceWorks have found that the benefits of placing a crew in suspended animation for the duration of the journey could be legion. Without living spaces or kitchen facilities, the ship carrying the crew could be lighter and smaller. With everyone basically in hibernation, with a lower metabolic rate, future missions can reduce consumables like food and water by up to 70 percent. And having an unconscious crew also reduces the grueling boredom and chances of personality clashes before humanity can complete the small step/giant leap onto the Red Planet.
It sounds practically perfect in every way, but there’s still a considerable amount of time and research that needs to happen before we send astronauts off to Mars via the shores of sleep. The technology that SpaceWorks is looking at is a form of therapeutic hypothermia that will drop the temperature of the astronauts’ bodies by just 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, reducing their metabolism and putting them in a kind of hibernation. “It doesn’t take much to get the body to start slowing down,” says John Bradford, President of SpaceWorks Enterprises.To read more, click here.