Could Astronauts Sleep Their Way to the Stars?

Status
Not open for further replies.
Z

zavvy

Guest
<b>Could Astronauts Sleep Their Way to the Stars?</b><br /><br />LINK<br /><br />The state of suspended animation that astronauts enter during long-haul space flights is a staple of science-fiction movies. But now the European Space Agency (ESA) wants to turn it into reality.<br /><br />Agency staff are planning future research into the possibility of inducing a hibernation-like state in humans. "We are not sure whether it is possible," says Marco Biggiogera, an expert on hibernation mechanisms at the University of Pavia, Italy, who is advising ESA. "But it's not crazy."<br /><br />ESA believes hibernation would help astronauts to cope with the psychological demands of decades-long return journeys to destinations such as Saturn. And because less space and food would be needed on such missions, the spacecraft would be lighter and easier to launch.<br /><br />Practical hibernation mechanisms are at least a decade away, says Mark Ayre of ESA's Advanced Concepts Scheme. But he and colleagues are already considering what research needs to done to bring such systems to reality.<br /><br />One route of inquiry centres on DADLE (D-Ala,D-Leu-enkephalin), a substance with opium-like properties. An injection of DADLE is known to trigger hibernation in ground squirrels during the summer season, when the animals would normally be awake. It also seems to send cultures of human cells to sleep: the cells divide more slowly and their gene activity drops when the molecule is applied, say Biggiogera and his colleagues in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation.<br /><br />Researchers want to test DADLE in non-hibernating animals, starting with rats. Carlo Zancanaro and colleagues at the University of Verona, Italy, ran such an experiment last month and are currently analysing data from sensors that tracked the animals' heartbeats and brain activity after DADLE was applied.<br /><br />Muscle booster<br /><br />R
 
T

thechemist

Guest
<i><font color="yellow">Practical hibernation mechanisms are at least a decade away, says Mark Ayre of ESA's Advanced Concepts Scheme. </font></i><br /><br />It's funny how over-optimistic scientists can be when they do PR, or apply for funding.<br />I'd say maybe one order of magnitude over-optimistic.<br /><br />Plus, what use is an astronaut on Mars if he is "high" ? <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <em>I feel better than James Brown.</em> </div>
 
Z

zavvy

Guest
<font color="yellow">Plus, what use is an astronaut on Mars if he is "high" ? </font><br /><br /><img src="/images/icons/cool.gif" /> ... What better way to explore Mars and Space?
 
M

mooware

Guest
So, when they reach thier destination, and wake up. Everyone they have ever known is dead<br />
 
Q

qzzq

Guest
No, this is only for 'short' trips inside the solar system. Their friends and relatives would still be around when they got back.<br /><br />****<br />Zavvy,<br /><br />Check this out please. <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /> It is somewhat related to this story. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p>***</p> </div>
 
Z

zavvy

Guest
<font color="yellow">Check this out please. </font><br /><br />Ooh! Where do I sign up? Will they have bedside Internet access...?? <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" />
 
Z

zavvy

Guest
According to this I don't qualify... <img src="/images/icons/frown.gif" /><br /><br />"<i>Les principaux critères de sélection sont les suivants : <br /><br />*Être de sexe féminin, et avoir entre 25 et 40 ans" <br /></i>
 
M

mooware

Guest
I guess I was thrown off by the Subject line. "Astronauts Sleep Thier Way To The Stars" For some reason, based on the title, I thought we were talking about hibernation for inter-stellar travel..<br /><br />
 
Q

qzzq

Guest
Yeah, that title is a bit misleading. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p>***</p> </div>
 
N

nopatience

Guest
ya, but how long would you like to sleep? seven years?<br />thats seven years of your life! I wouldn't do that. seven years is a long time. your friends and family would still be there but you would have <b> a lot </b> of catching up to do.
 
A

a_lost_packet_

Guest
<font color="yellow">This is pure speculation that some sort of hibernation or suspended animation is even practical. </font><br /><br />I agree. The type of "suspended animation" they are talking about isn't really that at all. It is a drug induced coma. The low levels of cellular activity are interesting, but the idea does not serve much of a useful purpose. Human beings aren't designed for hibernation. <br /><br />Possible gains: <br />Reduced levels of consumption in food/water/atmosphere.. less drain on recyclers.<br />Not alot of need for expanding crew quarters to make them comfy and to keep them from going cabin-crazy.<br />Mission control doesn't have to listen to complaints or deal with practical jokes involving space aliens living in the airducts.<br /><br />Possible caveats:<br />Crew wakes up dead.<br />Ship has a technical problem and crew wakes up dead.<br />Navigation error put's ship on course with strange phenomenon. Crew wakes up enslaved to chimps. Crew ends up as bannana farmers and specialize at cursing at large stone statues of women.<br /><br /><br />I could see a use for putting a crewperson in a drug induced coma in order to reduce the effects of an injury until proper attention could be received groundside. However, the body is an amazing thing. What healing processes would be negated by such an action? Would the temporary solution be worse? The idea is interesing. But I just don't see how it is a practical advantage over more traditional means when referring to space-flight within our solar system. It's like hitting a nail with a 500 pound hammer in order to put a picture on the wall. Just use a regular hammer and avoid inviting disaster. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1">I put on my robe and wizard hat...</font> </div>
 
A

aaron38

Guest
I remember reading an article on bear hibernation that they don't loose muscle mass during their winter sleep, or at least the muscle mass is a mere fraction of what a human coma patient experiences.<br /><br />If a bear can do it, theoretically a human should be able to do it as well.
 
T

tom_hobbes

Guest
Leaving aside the feasibility of hibernation for a moment, and purely as a science fiction concept, I just had an idea which I don't recall reading in any stories. What about, for really long haul trips, using some means of time dilation, stepping through some sort of artificial event horizon onboard the ship, at some point after launch. So you instantly travel a thousand years into the ships future or whatever, just as the ship is arriving at another star system.<br /><br />?<br /><br />Crap probably. I've not encountered the idea because it sucks.... <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font size="2" color="#339966"> I wish I could remember<br /> But my selective memory<br /> Won't let me</font><font size="2" color="#99cc00"> </font><font size="3" color="#339966"><font size="2">- </font></font><font size="1" color="#339966">Mark Oliver Everett</font></p><p> </p> </div>
 
N

nacnud

Guest
<font color="yellow">If a bear can do it, theoretically a human should be able to do it as well.</font><br /><br />Not necessarily I suspect that if the bear’s ability to hibernate evolved after a proto bear evolved from our common ancestor we might lack the traits that make such hibernation possible. However if at any time in human lineage one of our ancestors was able to hibernate we might still have the ability to hibernate.<br /><br />For example the human genome still contains the gene to make vitamin C however the promoter region for the gene is broken so the gene never gets expressed. Such a gene is called a pseudogene. Perhaps the gene that causes hibernation has broken it this way, however once induced the mechanisms for controlling hibernation (a separate state to coma) might still be functional. However this is all highly speculative but would make some very interesting research.<br />
 
S

steve01

Guest
It seems so clear to me that we need to focus on propulsion as opposed to stasis for the near future. Once we can achieve 1/2 light speed we could get to Saturn in roughly 84 minutes - no need to pack a lunch for that! Only when velocities such as this can be reached should we then explore hibernation options . . . a trip to Alpha Centauri would take approx. 8 years earth time to get there -only then should we be worried about how to conserve space and energy on such a journey.
 
T

tom_hobbes

Guest
Does that time include acceleration and deceleration? I can imagine pulling some serious gee on that ride! <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font size="2" color="#339966"> I wish I could remember<br /> But my selective memory<br /> Won't let me</font><font size="2" color="#99cc00"> </font><font size="3" color="#339966"><font size="2">- </font></font><font size="1" color="#339966">Mark Oliver Everett</font></p><p> </p> </div>
 
N

nacnud

Guest
Eh? The cost of this kind of medical research is unlikely to come close to a single rocket launch, suggesting that we ignore such possibilities and try to produce spacecraft that can reach velocities that are a substantial fraction of the speed of light is daft.
 
S

steve01

Guest
OK, well lets clod along with present technology then. . . explain to me how humans will reproduce while in hibernation because any serious exploration at the speed would be multi-generational.
 
N

nacnud

Guest
The current ESA study was only to see what resources could be saved on a six month journey to Mars not a multi generation interplanetary colonisation attempt.<br /><br />If you could reduce each astronauts resource foot print during hibernation by say 2/3 this would result in a significant mass and therefore cost saving.<br />
 
S

steve01

Guest
Hey, don't get me wrong . . . any practical research that gets us closer to the stars(and planets) is OK by me. What of the potential for money-making ventures with, for example, microgravity experiments or reality TV, surely the profits would out-weigh the cost of extra cargo space!
 
N

nacnud

Guest
It might not require genetic engineering to activate a dormant hibernation trait. There is some evidence [nationalgeographic.com] primates can hibernate. If the triggers for such behaviour and the controlling mechanisms can be understood it may be possible to induce such a state in humans.<br /><br />I think that you were suggesting the genes for the behaviour could be added by genetic engineering where I was suggesting that this might not be necessary as the genes might already be there but non functional. Both methods are speculative but at the moment it is considered extremely unethical to intentionally modify human genes in any way that can be passed on to offspring. <br /><br />Currently we will only be able to study this phenomenon with animal studies which in themselves have their own ethical problems. Only once it has proved possible and safe in animals will humans studies start, this might take a considerable time.
 
S

steve01

Guest
not to beat a dead horse but don't forget political will . . . is the general public going to support genetic manipulation and outcomes that are beyond our 10 second attention span. I think we are labelled the "now" generation I still believe there would be more support for propulsion as opposed to the above mentioned tactics.
 
N

nacnud

Guest
OK lets race, you find a way to propel man carrying vehicle at ½ the speed of light and I'll find out if hibernating humans <b>without</b> genetic modification is possible.<br /><br />3, 2, 1, go...<br />
 
N

nacnud

Guest
I realise all that, I would suspect that the last common ancestor with hibernation abilities would be extremely ancient probably at the dawn of primates which was about 55 million years ago. However the study mentioned at the beginning of this thread had shown evidence of metabolic changes in human cell cultures when an opiate like compound was introduced that appeared to be similar to hibernation states encountered in other organisms. To me this indicates something is happening worthy of further study, however, I admit this is still all very speculative.<br /><br />Perhaps the introducing the concept of 'lost' genes was inappropriate to this situation but I was trying to illustrate how traits could fall dormant but still have some elements that are functional to a limited extent.<br /><br />The hibernating lemur does show some interesting aspects; to my eye it is the hibernation at relatively warm temperatures which is most interesting.<br /><br />One thing I am absolutely sure of is that this is a phenomena that is worthy of further study and not just for long duration space flights, there may well be medical benefits as well. It may all be smoke and mirrors and bad results but that is one of the risks of science, null results are IMO as important as positive ones.<br /><br />In all studying this is much more likely to yield benefits than trying to build a vehicle to move at considerable fractions of the speed of light, especially considering the costs of the latter venture.<br />
 
N

nacnud

Guest
Sorry my statement <br /><br />"If you could reduce each astronaut's resource footprint during hibernation by say 2/3, this would result in a significant mass and therefore cost savings." <br /><br />The would should really be replaced with a could.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

ASK THE COMMUNITY