Hibernate makes sense for long tasks. (Photo: Shutterstock/Demetrio Zimino)
Animals lose little muscle mass during hibernation. This is one of the main reasons why artificial hibernation is of interest to astronauts on long space missions.
On very long journeys through space, it might make sense to put astronauts into a kind of hibernation. This way they don’t have to get bored in a smaller sized capsule for extended periods of time and consume fewer supplies.
According to Jennifer Ngo-Anh, a researcher at the European Space Agency (Esa), the first studies on this topic could be done using human beings as early as ten years, according to the site. space He writes. However, this depends on some factors.
Among other things, how well the research on this topic has been funded and how previous tests with animals have gone. “Of course, we have to fine-tune everything before we can apply it to humans,” Ngo Anh said.
Hibernation, also known as “freezing,” has many benefits. Perhaps one of the largest is not the most obvious. Astronauts lose muscle mass very quickly in space due to microgravity.
Despite a rigorous training schedule, astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) often lose about 20 percent of their muscle mass in just a month. This causes them to have gravity problems after returning to Earth.
However, in artificial hibernation, the animals’ muscles break less — even though they don’t move during that time.
“When animals wake up from hibernation, they remember their surroundings very quickly,” said Ngo Anh. “Within seconds, they remember where they hid their food before they went into hibernation, and they actually don’t experience much muscle loss, which is surprising after months of lying and sleeping in a cave.”
However, it will likely be some time before we can hibernate astronauts for long space missions. The researchers are currently testing the artificial hardness in mice.
In order to immobilize them, they are given a medicine and placed in a dark, low-temperature room. The desired state can only be achieved under the right conditions.
However, researchers have already succeeded in putting the animals into a state of stagnation for several days and then allowing them to wake up again unharmed.