NASA Considers Deep Sleep Hibernation Strategy for Mars Mission

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Surely, when it comes to cutting the cost of pricey projects, companies big and small want to get in on the action. A NASA-backed study explores an innovative way to dramatically cut the cost of a human expedition to Mars. How? They want to put the crew in stasis. Essentially, a very deep sleep.

The deep sleep, called torpor, would reduce astronauts’ metabolic functions with existing medical procedures. Torpor also can occur naturally in cases of hypothermia. According to Discovery, aerospace engineer Mark Schaffer, with SpaceWorks Enterprises in Atlanta, said “Therapeutic torpor has been around in theory since the 1980s and really since 2003 has been a staple for critical care trauma patients in hospitals. Protocols exist in most major medical centers for inducing therapeutic hypothermia on patients to essentially keep them alive until they can get the kind of treatment that they need.”

The crew could be put in hibernation for the transit time to Mars, which under the best-case scenario would take 180 days one-way. However, since the longest period of time a person has been in “hibernation” is seven days, further testing needs to be done to ensure the safety of the crew under these conditions.

NASA reports that the study shows a five-fold reduction in the amount of pressurized volume need for a hibernating crew and a three-fold reduction in the total amount of mass required, including consumables like food and water.

Monica Adams | News Cult