The European Space Agency (ESA) has come up with two potential designs which they hope will be used to put humans into a state of hibernation when they eventually make the long journey to Mars and beyond.
The designs come after a recent study which was conducted by the EAS. The study found that putting humans to sleep on extended voyages would not only have health benefits, it would save money and make for an efficient space ship design.
Depending on the speed of the launch, and the alignment of Earth and Mars, the journey could take between 150-300 days (between 4 and 9 months) with many reports calling such a long journey a suicide mission.
This is because astronauts would be exposed to elements like space radiation, space psychosis (space madness) and space atrophy (muscle loss). This is where the ESA’s hibernation pod comes into play. The agency believes that placing humans in a state of hibernation could potentially mitigate these issues.
According to an article from ESA, “We looked at how an astronaut team could be best put into hibernation, what to do in case of emergencies, how to handle human safety and even what impact hibernation would have on the psychology of the team. Finally, we created an initial sketch of the habitat architecture and created a roadmap to achieve a validated approach to hibernate humans to Mars within 20 years.”
The idea behind the hibernation pods would involve astronauts gaining a substantial amount of weight before being placed into a state of hibernation. This is to ensure that their bodies will have enough calories to survive while unconscious.
The pods would be fitted with a soft shell, and according to the ESA, it would be able to cool down and become dark once the hibernation period has begun. Astronauts will then be given 21 days to help regain any lost mass and recover from the hibernation.
Image credit: ESA
Due to the lack of conscious humans aboard the spacecraft, AI technology would be needed to keep the spaceship operational. The pods will keep the astronauts safe from space radiation. We’re still decades away from this technology becoming a viable means of transportation. Although growing interest in the field has lead to some interesting research which includes how hibernation affects brain-wave patterns.