Could Astronauts Sleep Their Way to the Stars?

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thalion

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I don't think hibernation for the years to centuries that would be needed for interstellar travel is or will be feasible for a long time, if ever. For shorter trips, to Mars or the outer planets (Jupiter and Saturn, namely), if it could be made to work, it would be a godsend. That is, short of developing efficient new propulsion that would render the need for hibernation superfluous, a possibility that seems little closer than the prospect of physical hibernation itself.
 
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rogers_buck

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They ought to spool up the human genome down at Arecibo. That way it could be said mankind was headed out into the galaxy on a mission of discovery.
 
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mcbethcg

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I don't think there is necessarily a need for genetic modifications to enable hibernation or any other space survival technique.<br />The question is, when a creature evolves to be able to hibernate, is the evolutionary change necessarily an alteration in the function of every cell, or is it a change in some organ that secretes a hormone?
 
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nacnud

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I agree, mammals that hibernate only do so for relatively short stretches (weeks) before wakening to 'stretch their legs'. I was only interested in hibernation for relatively short journeys i.e. Mars etc to talk about longer journeys is very speculative. Sorry if I muddled my responses, nacnud… need… coffee… <img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" />
 
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rogers_buck

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It is more than a question of hibernating. There are nasty heavy particles flailing about that no practical amounts of shielding will hold at bay. In adition to a suspended metabolism there would have to be a rigorous genomic repair process at play. Perhaps protein based nano-machines in the nucleus could put things back together with all the correct fire codes upheld. <br /><br />Beter to simply send a machine. But, if you send a machine today the machines of tommorrow will be much faster and will pass yesterday's machine launched at great expense. Similarly, if you send humans today then the humans of tommorrow will have as a secondary mission rescuing the earlier launched humans along the way. It is an interesting dilema.<br /><br />If your purpose is to colonize rather than to expler the robots work far better The robots could take frozen embryos with them and modify the genetics to suit the destination world before birthing and nurturing a new race of humanity. The robots wouldn't be there to send information back, they would be there to raise and teach humanity. After a few generations the robots might only be remembered as a creation myth.<br /><br />
 
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thechemist

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Are you implying anything rogers_buck ? <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /><br />The Telegraph has a typical article on this today, including a misleading title that is totally negated in the text: <br />Mars astronauts 'will hibernate for 50 million-mile journey in space'<br />By Karyn Miller<br /><br />More hype than anything, typical scientist mumbo jumbo.<br />This guy though got it right :<br /><br /><i> Some scientists believe that hibernation may never be suitable for humans. Neil Stanley, the director of Sleep Research at the University of Surrey, said that it could "torture" the mind.<br /><br />"I'm sure it would be possible to put the body to sleep, but the mind is something else. Nobody has managed to put the mind to sleep yet. When you are asleep, dreams are your reality. If you were asleep for six months, dreams would become your memories.<br /><br />"Waking up would be a great shock to the system. The human perception of time is ingrained. How do you deal with missing six months of your life?" <br /></i> <br /><br />"Edited to correct a name error, sorry rogers_buck" <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <em>I feel better than James Brown.</em> </div>
 
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mcbethcg

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I think that ships capable of transporting adult human beings to the stars and then landing and supporting a colony would likely have to be immense, and carry immense amounts of fuel and other supplies. The crew hibernation pod would likely be suspended at the center of the fuel tank or whatever, and would therefore be well sheilded. In addition, electrostatic fields can avert many particles.<br /><br />The earths atmosphere exerts the same pressure down on us as we feel (additionally) when submerged in about 16 feet of water, meaning that the weight of the air above our heads is the same as the weight of 16 feet of water above our heads- I assume that 16 feet of water in a surrounding tank would provide about the same sheilding as the air presently above our heads.
 
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rogers_buck

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Perhaps an issotropic laser cooling system might be a lighter alternative to heavy shielding. It could start kicking energy out of incoming particles so they would be harmless by the time they arrived at the capsule. Still a lot of trouble to go through just to deliver monkeys to a planet where it might not survive.<br /><br />I have to think that a technological society that would consider an interstellar mission to be worthwhile (next years mission won't keep passing yesterdays mission along the way in an endless cycle) other alternatives will exist.<br /><br />For example, if there is a planet identified that you want to survey and probe why not generate a plasma machine in the atmosphere of that planet to make observations. A plasma machine would be created by a powerfull laser and holographic process and would look like ball lightening. As the field collapsed it would do something usefull, like snap a picture or analyze for a single trace compound then return the results. You could bomb he planet with a barrage of these things and collect a ton of data at the speed of light/2.<br /><br />No commercial reason for colonizing a remote star, so the only practical reason would be to create a back-up of our information. At present, biology is an important part of that information but that may not be the case in 100 years. Biology might just be another assembled system and we might just be entities at large as comfortable in specially prepared bodies as we are in quantum computing matrices (where we spend most all of our time). In that case, we would want to land a "gateway node" that would contain a spookey A@D transiever and a suite of nano factories.<br /><br />By the time the frozen monkeys arrive they would find their unrecognizable grand children waiting to assimilate them. Resistance is futile!<br />
 
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steve01

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Just out of curiosity, why would Lemurs in Madagascar hibernate? the CIA world fact book states that the country is tropical along the coast - temperate in the interior and arid in the south . . .
 
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nacnud

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I think that in some areas there is a pronounced wet/dry season and the lemures hibernate through the dry season due to lack of food.
 
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