Today, the journey to Mars rarely comes from the news. From Elon Musk, who releases plans for his new rocket to allow SpaceX to populate Mars, to NASA, which announces another rover as part of the Mars 2020 mission, private and public organizations are rushing to the red planet.
But astronautics is exponentially more demanding than sending robots and experiments beyond Earth. Not only do you have to perfect the rocket's engineering, the launch calculations, the weightlessness and the remote-controlled Mars landing, you also have to keep a group of people alive for six months without outside help.
There are questions about how to pack enough food and water to support the crew without making the rocket too heavy and how much room the crew has for life, which happens when someone becomes dangerously ill and what a claustrophobic half-year under these circumstances would mean for the spiritual health of the Martian explorers.
Enter John Bradford of SpaceWorks Enterprises in Atlanta.
With $ 500,000 Grant The NASA team, Bradford, has been working on an adaptation of a promising medical procedure that could alleviate many of the human space constraints.
Presenting at the annual "Hello Tomorrow" summit in Pars, Bradford shared his team's concept of putting the crew into so-called "low metabolic torpor" for selected phases during spaceflight ̵
The idea comes from a recent medical practice called therapeutic hypothermia or targeted temperature management. It is used in cases of cardiac arrest and neonatal encephalopathy. Patients are cooled to about 33 ° C for 48 hours to prevent tissue injury following a lack of blood flow. Sedatives are then administered to induce sleep. Ex-Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher was known in this state after his skiing accident in 2013.
The crew should be fed and poured directly into the stomach to avoid consumption and standard digestion. After adjusting the procedure for space flight, the crew should be fed and soaked directly into the stomach using a percutaneous endoscopic catering tube to eliminate the need for food and standard digestion to prevent atrophy.
Bradford's team found that in this state of solidification, the body needed more than a third less food and water to carry itself, greatly reducing payload weight estimates for Mars missions.
Much of The term is the rotational element of who is awake and who is in stasis. Current medical procedures take only two to three days, so the plan is to extend the period of time in which each person is in a state of paralysis to about eight days. If you add a two-day wake up period, a schedule can be created so that another member of the crew acts as the janitor for the others, each in cycles of eight days of paralysis and two days awake.
This means people will not sleep during the entire journey, but as these boring periods make up most of their journey, the physical and mental pressure on the crew and the weight of resources on board would be greatly reduced. However, the research plan is to increase these periods from days to weeks
It is not just SpaceWorks that is exploring the idea of human hibernation for space travel. The European Space Agency has also used part of its Advanced Concepts team for this research. But her last work was released in 2004, suggesting that Bradford and his team have the most promising advance.
Naysayers tend to question the ability of the human body to "wake up" effectively and safely from these long periods of stasis, whether or not our bodies can really adjust to a healthy temperature at low temperature. We are so well developed that they are fairly accurate, and long-term changes in human body temperature have not been studied.
But SpaceWorks team research has both short and long-term prospects. The progress that we have made in our understanding and implementation of the torpor state can probably be adapted for use in organ transplants and intensive care in extreme environments.
Of course, it's the long-term that excites Bradford. He estimates that they could achieve this capability for manned missions as early as the 2030s. And with Elon Musk aiming for the first manned flights of his new rocket in 2024, it seems that this pair could have the ingredients for a Mars future for Earthlings earlier than expected.
We welcome your comments at ideas @ qz .com . Learn how to write for Quartz Ideas . This post originally appeared on SingularityHub