Consider this as an additional developmental study on NASA’s planned mission to Mars, after I blogged about Alyssa Carson (https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2014/10/12/mars-generation-starting-them-young/), the ambitious and courageous 13-year old girl who wants to become the first person to set foot on the Red Planet.
While the US space agency, NASA, has successfully completed unmanned mission to Mars, like the landing of robotic rovers Opportunity and Curiosity that are now exploring the planet, transporting and putting human beings on the planet is much more demanding, as it is challenging.
A typical Mars mission manned by astronauts is said to involve a six-month journey, followed by a year and a half on the red planet, and a six month journey back to earth.
This is where it gets interesting and exacting as NASA, as early as a year ago, has been funding a study as to what procedures/techniques to be done with the manned missions 20 years from now considering the length of time it will take to reach Mars.
Whether or not this will be the ultimate practice to be followed, it has been reported that researchers are looking into the medical technique of putting the astronauts into a deep sleep or torpor on the six-month odyssey to Mars.
“I don’t think that we could go to Mars without something like this technology,” John Bradford, president of Atlanta-based SpaceWorks, said.
The medical technique being researched is known as therapeutic hypothermia, which is used in hospitals, albeit for a much shorter time period.
Therapeutic, or protective, hypothermia lowers a patient’s body temperature to reduce the risk of tissue injury.
SpaceWorks Enterprises acknowledges more research is needed before someone is placed in a six-month sleep. Up to now, the longest torpor induced by therapeutic hypothermia is 14 days, said Bradford.
According to Bradford the research envisages waking astronauts just once, at the end of their journey, other sleep durations may be used. The crew, he said, could sleep in shifts, with each astronaut in torpor for about two weeks and then conscious for two days, ensuring that one crew member is always awake during the mission.
When in the deep sleep, astronauts would be fed intravenously with carbohydrates, amino acids, dextrose, and lipids, said Bradford.
“They would not have any solid waste — it would be strictly urine,” he said, adding that a catheter would be used to dispose of the urine.
The crew could be brought out of their torpor by turning off the cooling gas and shivering suppressant.
I am sure Alyssa Carson and the rest of the aspiring Mars generation astronauts are aware of this technique, but then again 20 years hence is a long of time, and maybe by then a less bizarre technique, but equally brilliant idea, will be proposed.