While our space programs are in many manners in their own infancy in regards to intergalactic quest, NASA scientists are taking a look at methods to send manned aircraft further than we have ever gone to Mars. Getting there, however, will prove stasis, or more than a bit slippery, and scientists want to take a page directly of the annals of science fiction by perhaps placing astronauts in a drawn-out heavy slumber. Yes, you heard it correctly, NASA wants its future travelers to go into a deep sleep while traveling through space. Sounds cool, but how?
We haven’t had the need to keep someone in (therapeutic torpor) for longer than seven days,” Mark Schaffer, aerospace engineer for SpaceWorks Enterprises said at the International Astronomical Congress in Toronto last week.Mark Schaffer
The shape of stasis they are looking at, called torpor, is widely used in critical-care hospital components, but has so far just been utilized to keep individuals in heavy slumber for much less time compared to the 180-plus days it will take to get astronauts to Mars. To push the limits past the present time frame, NASA has partnered with SpaceWorks Enterprises, an aerospace engineering company, to study a stasis-reliant flight might work.
“We haven’t had the need to keep someone in (therapeutic torpor) for longer than seven days,” Mark Schaffer, aerospace engineer for SpaceWorks Enterprises said at the International Astronomical Congress in Toronto last week. “For human Mars missions, we need to push that to 90 days, 180 days. Those are the types of mission flight times we’re talking about.”
A nasal solution, says SpaceWorks Enterprises, while comfortable than outside cooling pads, would be preferable since tissue damage could be caused by pads. The crew might be woken up by ceasing the flow of the cooling agent, or by using heating pads to speed the procedure up.
The crew would be fed via an IV tube while in stasis, and one scenario features a low-gravitation stasis room to help counter muscle decline while sleeping.
More research is needed before stasis is prepared for prime time, but first results from NASA-financed one-week evaluations on people are assuring. If stasis proves viable, it may decrease the total bulk of a Mars flight from 400 to 220 tons as it’ll require considerable levels of water, food and work out equipment to bring a crew back and there.
And if Space X creator Elon Musk is right, you might be part of one of these crews earlier than you might imagination.
This archive content was originally published October 7, 2014 (www.betawired.com)