Astronauts travelling to Mars in the near future could be placed into an artificial hibernation state, according to a scientist at the European Space Agency (ESA).
Speaking to The Telegraph , Professor Mark McCaughrean, Senior Science Advisor in the Directorate of Science at ESA, revealed that the hibernation state could reduce the need for vast amounts of food during the seven-month journey to Mars.
He explained: “The idea is that you would sleep for the journey so you would use much fewer consumables.
“Sleeping is not the same as hibernation, because if you hibernate you lower the body temperature and you reduce everything else, oxygen and so on.”
Placing astronauts in this state could also prevent fights from breaking out between astronauts during the gruelling journey, according to Professor McCaughrean.
He added: “If you’re going to have 100 people in the space of a couple of hundred cubic metres seven nine months, you’re going to have 20 people by the end of it because they’re going to have The Hunger Games on the way, they’re going to have killed each other.”
While the idea of placing astronauts in a hibernation state may sound far-fetched, ESA is already carrying out experiments on animals.
Professor McCaughrean said: “We’re doing experiments now on artificial hibernation to put someone under for seven months, and not worry about food. We’re talking about how we would do it. You do it with animal tests and we have programmes at looking how that would happen.”
However, there are several obstacles to overcome before these tests can be carried out on humans.
He added: “We’re nowhere near doing it because there are all the ethical questions about how you would do it.”
Story from The Mirror