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Hibernation for human trips to Mars

publicado a la‎(s)‎ 20 nov 2019, 7:48 por Plataforma Sites Dgac   [ actualizado el 1 sept 2020, 6:15 ]
The European Space Agency (ESA) said on November 18, 2019, that their scientists have been researching the process to put its astronauts on hibernation to cross the corners of space.
Although human hibernation for space voyages had always been fictional stories' material, ESA is doing the first studies to use suspended animation for trips to other planets.
With that goal in mind, the ESA created the “Topic Team” on hibernation and asked its “Concurrent Design Facility” (CDF) to begin studies to evaluate the advantages of human hibernation for future missions to a nearby planet, such as Mars.
The CDF team researched for the first time the possible impact of human hibernation in the design of the mission systems, taking as a reference a previous study for a round trip of six humans to Mars in a period of five years.

“We work in adjustments of the spaceship architecture, its logistics, protection against radiation, energy consumption and general design of the mission”, said CDF’s Robin Biesbroek.

The study revealed that the ship’s mass could be reduced in one third. The hibernation would take place in small individual modules that would also serve as a cockpit when the crew is awake.

From fiction to reality

The investigators assume that a drug would be used to induce the “torpor”, which is the term for the state of hibernation. As it happens with animals, the astronauts would get additional fat before inducing the torpor. Their modules would be darkened and their temperature would be greatly reduced for the projected 180 days trip to Mars.
Since the crew would be incapacitated for extended periods, the mission would be designed to operate in an autonomous way, with an optimal use of artificial intelligence and the “detection, isolation and repairing of errors” to keep a minimum level of system functions until the crew was reanimated.

Significant savings

“Hibernation has been proposed for a while as a key tool that could change human space travel”, said ESA’s SciSpacE team leader Jennifer Ngo-Anh.

“If we could reduce that astronauts’ basic metabolism in 75 percent, like what we can observe in nature with great hibernating animals, as certain kind of bears, we could achieve significant savings in mass and costs, which would make long exploration missions more feasible”, she said.
For decades, space agencies such as NASA and private companies as Elon Musk’s SpaceX have been planning to send future manned missions to Mars. However, the next missions will be unmanned and both NASA and the Chinese space agency are planning two for 2020.

(Sources: ESA, EarthSky.org)