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Is it possible for a human to hibernate ?

Posted on Sunday, 19 April, 2015 | Comment icon 16 comments

Could astronauts sleep through an entire space voyage ? Image Credit: NASA
Scientists have been investigating human hibernation as a way to enable long-haul space trips.
While there are several species of mammals capable of going to sleep for months at a time, humans continue to remain entirely reliant on a daily routine of sleeping and waking.

Hibernation would certainly have its advantages, especially on a long space mission where the ability for the crew to go to sleep for most of the trip would reduce the amount of resources needed to keep them alive and make extremely long journeys through the interstellar void a lot easier to cope with.

Now researchers at the European Space Agency have started to investigate ways to actually make this happen by better understanding and then adapting the processes that make effective hibernation possible in other species such as bears.

"It doesn’t mean we will have hibernating astronauts anytime soon, but we are learning from nature how to understand some of the things that happen to animals during hibernation, such as preventing bone loss or preventing muscle loss," said Leopold Summerer, head of advanced concepts at ESA.
"This is already something that would be a great benefit for long-distance spaceflight."

Another possible solution lies in inducing a type of therapeutic hypothermia, something that is already sometimes used to help patients with brain injuries or whose heart has stopped beating.

While previous efforts have been successful in applying this method to a person for up to three days, preserving someone for months or years during a space trip is going to prove a sizable challenge.

There is also the possibility that, given the muscle degradation seen in astronauts returning from space, hibernating for long periods of time may simply be an impractical proposition.

Only time will tell whether or not such a concept will ever truly be possible in practice.

Source: Russia Today | Comments (16)

Tags: Hibernation, Astronaut

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #7 Posted by Sundew on 20 April, 2015, 10:51
Pretty sure my parents thought I did when I was a teenager.
Comment icon #8 Posted by TripGun on 20 April, 2015, 14:06
Hibernation would be a bad alternative to cryogenic sleep.
Comment icon #9 Posted by paperdyer on 20 April, 2015, 15:48
I can't see this happening unless all or only a handful of astronauts hibernate. You can't leave just one person awake for an extended time with no one to interact with as Earth communications would take longer the further away you get. WE don't need a "HAL" running things either. A-I's still worry me because of 2001.
Comment icon #10 Posted by ancient astronaut on 20 April, 2015, 18:01
Feed them all Thanksgiving dinners and you will see hibernation in action.
Comment icon #11 Posted by toast on 20 April, 2015, 18:24
I would say, as hibernate isnt a capability of the human body and nature in general, that the effort to develop such a process for humans would consume enormous volumes of time and money. Maybe it would be more reasonable to invest into the research of cryopreservation instead as cryopreservation might be more usefull in relation to aging, amyotrophia and mission duration.
Comment icon #12 Posted by BeastieRunner on 20 April, 2015, 20:32
Article left no link to volunteer for the experiments I'm disappoitned You and me both.
Comment icon #13 Posted by DaiGer on 20 April, 2015, 20:35
no hibernating allowed!
Comment icon #14 Posted by Cryptid_Control on 21 April, 2015, 11:43
Lucky for you guys I'm the leading expert on this subject. Hibernation is not only a possibility, but a lifestyle.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Joke-Train on 21 April, 2015, 12:53
uh duh, i do it all the time hibernation is key
Comment icon #16 Posted by jassos15 on 21 April, 2015, 18:30
I think Therapeutic Hypothermia could be an induced hibernation.

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