WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- ‘Human hibernation’ is one of the ways scientists think can be used to astronauts during long space travels.
- It would help the astronauts drop their metabolism, therefore reducing the need for food and water.
- Scientists even suggest hibernation technique could be beneficial in treating patients with severe illnesses.
Experts suggest that artificial hibernation can be used in the future for long space trips.
Astronauts may undergo ‘human hibernation’ during deep space travels to Mars and beyond. The process would protect them from harmful space radiation and reduce the need for food and water supplies.
The scientists also believe that this method could be used to treat critically-ill patients in the future. The potential for the technique was discussed at a medical conference in New Orleans last week.
They presented a theory of a hibernating space crew kept alive “over vast cosmic distances reducing the need to take along huge stocks of food and water.”
With this technology, missions will be cheaper as the spacecraft will not be as big as what present astronauts use. Supplies will be reduced and astronauts will not get bored as they travel long distances.
Humans are not like bears and some other animals that hibernate when food is scarce and temperatures low. Entering hibernation is a survival technique for animals. The process, known as torpor, reduces their normal metabolism to low levels for days or weeks at a time.
Torpor makes the animal’s body temperature to drop to just above the surrounding air temperature, hence conserving energy.
Experts are interested in the idea of putting humans into the state of ‘synthetic torpor’ for space travels and treating serious illnesses.
“Synthetic torpor could protect astronauts from space-related health hazards and simultaneously reduce demands on spacecraft mass, volume and power capacities,” explained Dr. Matthew Regan, a Postdoctoral Fellow of the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.
Observing animal hibernation may help in treating patients who had traumatic medical conditions, such as stroke, cardiac arrest and severe blood loss.
Hibernating animals have a natural resistance to different injuries that can happen due to lack of blood flow.
Mammals who use torpor are also resistant to radiation injury. Studying this could help protect astronauts from space radiation during deep space travels.
Source: Daily Mail