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Scientists are Studying Possibilities of Human Hibernation for Deeper Space Exploration

If you have been a Sci-Fi fan and have watched movies like Alien, Passengers, Interstellar and 2001: Space Odyssey, you might understand the basic concept of how humans need to hibernate for longer periods to travel to space.

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Updated:November 20, 2019, 11:59 AM IST
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Scientists are Studying Possibilities of Human Hibernation for Deeper Space Exploration
If you have been a Sci-Fi fan and have watched movies like Alien, Passengers, Interstellar and 2001: Space Odyssey, you might understand the basic concept of how humans need to hibernate for longer periods to travel to space.

If you have been a Sci-Fi fan and have watched movies like Alien, Passengers, Interstellar and 2001: Space Odyssey, you might understand the basic concept of how humans need to hibernate for longer periods to travel to space. As shown in the movie, the fictional astronauts are put into ‘suspended animation’ to cross the vastness of space.

For years, there has been study and research on whether there is a possibility of going for a deeper space exploration using the human hibernation. Recently, the European Space Agency (ESA)’s SciSpacE team has prepared a research paper on how real life crew hibernation would impact space mission design.

For years, the space exploration beyond the Earth-Moon space has been done using satellites and cameras. It has not been possible for a human to travel beyond this space. However, the only way to make this possible is by putting humans to hibernation.

Along with the help of Concurrent Design Facility (CDF), ESA has worked towards making this fictional research into a reality. The CDF team investigated and researched about the potential impact of hibernation on system-level mission design. They took the Mars mission as their study model, where six humans will be sent to the Red Planet and will be returning back in five years.

The team studied about how to bring human hibernation to reality, keeping in mind the complexities of emergencies, human safety, and human psychology. Robin Biesbroek of the CDF said in a press release, “We worked on adjusting the architecture of the spacecraft, its logistics, protection against radiation, power consumption and overall mission design.”

As disclosed, the hibernating phase for humans would end with a 21 day recuperation period. SciSpacE Team Leader Jennifer Ngo-Anh explains, “If we were able to reduce an astronaut’s basic metabolic rate by 75% – similar to what we can observe in nature with large hibernating animals such as certain bears – we could end up with substantial mass and cost savings, making long-duration exploration missions more feasible.”

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