Today I saw the movie Interstellar which was incredible by the way if you haven’t seen it and in the movie they send human to explore other planets suitable for human life. In the movie the astronauts must make a two year journey to multiple planets but since time is all relative two years in space could equal fifty years on earth. If that doesn’t make sense to you read my article about time travel and time dilation. So in order for the astronauts to live long enough to make the journey they must go into a sort of hibernation where they will sleep for the entirety of the time, but is this a real thing?
First off, to make things clear this is hibernation like what bears do in the winter, not freezing people and then thawing them out whenever we like.
Second, a coma-like sleep state could be the answer to many space travel problems. According to Space.com, astronauts would “sleep” in a capsule in which a computer would monitor their health and feed them through tubes. Since the astronauts would be sleeping the ship would not need artificial gravity or excersize equipment to keep the crew from experiencing muscle loss from the lack of gravity.
Although not yet possible the European Space Agency (ESA) has been conducting experiment to see if this science fiction could ever become reality. But hibernation can not be used during any old space mission. A mission using human hibernation would need to be more than a 3 year journey.
NASA’s Human Outer Planet Exploration campaign or HOPE might fit that description. By the year 2045 NASA hopes to send a ship manned with six humans to explore the surface of Jupiter’s moon. The spokeswoman from NASA says that they have not conducted any research related to space hibernation yet. Darn.
Maybe one day this will be possible and human will be able to effortlessly fly through the solar system. But until then I’ll just stick to taking my 30 minute power naps and watching Interstellar on repeat.