Hibernation during long-duration space missions can help astronauts stay healthy by reducing their consumption of food, water and air. When sleeping in space, astronauts will experience a reduction in their heart rate and respiratory system, reducing the need to burn calories and reducing the amount needed to stay healthy.
NASA is studying hibernation to develop ways to help astronauts do it in the future. The agency awarded a grant to Kelly Drew, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Alaska who has studied hibernating animals for more than two decades. Drew studies the hibernation process of arctic ground squirrels, Space reported on February 10.
Arctic ground squirrels in Professor Kelly Drew’s laboratory at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
Arctic ground squirrels in Professor Kelly Drew’s laboratory at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. (Photo: Todd Paris/University of Alaska).
Hibernation is very different from regular sleep. During sleep, the brain is still actively active. However, during hibernation, brain activity slows down completely. The body temperature of hibernating animals also drops, in some cases even close to freezing, cells stop dividing and the heart rate drops to two beats per minute.
Upon awakening, hibernating animals do not experience any significant side effects. However, the same does not happen with people who wake up after a long period of coma or bed rest. These people, like astronauts in a microgravity environment, will suffer many side effects due to the body not actively functioning. Side effects include muscle loss, osteoporosis, and organ deterioration.
“New research could facilitate future missions, enable medical hibernation for long-duration space missions, protect astronauts from cabin fever, ionizing radiation and much more.” The research could also be useful in preventing muscle loss and osteoporosis in microgravity.NASA said.
In the future, instead of astronauts sitting for months in a small ship flying to Mars, consuming food, water, air and gradually weakening due to inactivity in a microgravity environment, part of the crew could be put into hibernation. Hibernating astronauts need no food or water, consume little air, and will wake up with much better bones and muscles than their waking companions.
Hibernation can also be useful in the medical field, helping protect patients from dangerous conditions such as heart attacks and strokes. “Patients experiencing a stroke or heart attack may be placed in medical hibernation to slow their metabolism until they can be taken to the appropriate hospital.”NASA said.
Article source: VnExpress
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Hibernation is considered a long-term space mission that can help astronauts stay healthy and reduce their consumption of food, water and air. When we sleep…