NASA Mars one mission has serious intentions to send people to Mars by 2030. But for the implementation of the project, a lot of problems remain to be solved, including the high cost of such a space expedition. One of the solutions to this problem can be the immersion of the crew in deep sleep.
It is expected that the state of deep sleep, accompanied by appropriate medical procedures, can produce an effect similar to anabiosis, namely – to slow the metabolism in the astronaut’s body and to minimise its metabolic processes. In nature, for example, there are cases when living organisms fall into such a state with a sharp deterioration in living conditions, in particular, hypothermia (hypothermia) can be the cause.
“The therapeutic anabiosis has been known since the 1980s, and in 2003 it was used in medicine to help patients with extremely serious injuries,” said NASA aerospace engineer Mark Schaffer at the Canadian International Astronomical Congress. They are equipped with special equipment for therapeutic hypothermia.The procedure facilitates recovery and allows supporting the life of patients in critical situations, while they receive the necessary treatment. “
According to NASA Mars one calculations, the journey to Mars can take at least 180 days, that is, the path to one side will take about six months. Approximately for such a period, it is planned to introduce the crew into the deep sleep, while the intake of nutrients into the body will be provided through intravenous infusions. To date, medical technology allows you to enter a person into “hibernation” without consequences for his health for up to one week.
“Until now, there has been no need to leave anyone in therapeutic anabiosis for more than seven days,” says Schaffer, “but now, to implement the Martian mission, we will work on the possibility of increasing this time to 90 and then to 180 days”
Technology implies that the cooling of the human body will be carried out with the help of the intranasal system (administration of drugs through the nose). Experts agree that this is not the most convenient option. Nevertheless, the inhalation of a coolant has certain advantages before lowering the body temperature by external methods, which can cause damage to some tissues.
It is worth noting that now in Mars one, there is already a cooling intranasal system RhinoChill, which is able to lower the temperature of the brain and body, through circulating “cold” blood, cooled, in turn, due to the intensive evaporation of refrigerant from the nasal cavity of man. The state of hibernation is achieved with a decrease in temperature in the range from 31.6 to 33.8 degrees Celsius.
How to get the astronaut out of this state? It is planned that it will be possible to return a person to a normal waking state by simply stopping the flow of refrigerant. However, such an operation can take a long time and at this stage, unforeseen results may occur. Therefore, scientists plan to equip the system with additional heating elements, which will speed up the process if necessary.
A possible solution is also the stay of one of the crew members outside the stasis. That is, on the way to Mars each astronaut will alternately lead a short watch, while the rest of the team will be in “suspended animation”. This approach will allow staying aboard the “wakeful” person who will watch the ship’s systems and “sleep” colleagues, at the same time, every member of the expedition will spend most of the long journey with sleep.
The advantages of this method of transporting the crew to Mars are obvious in Mars one. For example, to accommodate astronauts you will need much less voluminous devices, in which you do not need to move additional equipment, food, water and other things, the quantity of which would be much greater with other delivery options.
The development of a similar project called SPACE TORPOR is sponsored by NASA’s SpaceWorks company, whose plans include the creation of a rotating complex with a low level of gravity aboard the spacecraft. Being in it travellers will be able to reduce the negative impact of weightlessness on the musculoskeletal system and health in general.
Calculations of the company’s researchers have shown that in the case of successful implementation of their concept, it is possible to reduce the necessary space for the crew 5 times, and also 3 times the required number of useful cargoes. In general, the introduction of the crew in a state of deep sleep will reduce the total weight of equipment from 400 tonnes to 220 tonnes.
At this stage, NASA scientists, in conjunction with colleagues from SpaceWorks, are carrying out research aimed at proving that a prolonged stay in suspended animation does not damage the astronaut’s health.