The European Space Agency is currently investigating the hibernation of humans to address the issue of sending humans into space. A recent study by the agency found that falling asleep for long trips saves people money, provides health benefits, and enables more efficient spacecraft designs.
Under the right conditions, it will take about seven months for people to get to Mars. Elon Musk plans to get us there, NASA is in, and ESA is currently exploring their options. There is only one big problem: it could be a suicide mission.
There are a number of reasons why the journey to Mars could be fatal to humans, not least harmful space radiation, space psychosis and space atrophy. However, according to the results of the ESA study, these problems could be alleviated if people were hibernated.
According to an ESA article (on Phys Org):
We examined how an astronaut team can best be put into hibernation, what to do in an emergency, how human safety is handled and what its effects are hibernation would have on the psychology of the team. Finally, we created a first outline of the habitat architecture and created a roadmap to achieve a validated approach to human hibernation to Mars within 20 years.
Human hibernation is more than just science fiction. It's a problem that scientists from different fields and disciplines work for because it has tremendous potential benefits for humanity. Research shows that inducing such a lowered metabolic state can slow the disease and provide restorative benefits. There is also evidence that the body in such a condition is more resistant to the harmful effects of radiation.
Include the fact that people in hibernation need no entertainment or exercise – animals do not suffer in nature in nature. Physical side effects such as muscle wasting during hibernation and hibernation seem to be a good option. If we continue to assume that prolonged dormancy will not adversely affect our mental health, we should not worry about isolation or space psychosis.
Of course, all this is purely speculative given the fact that people currently do not hibernate. The growing interest in this field has led to incredible research in recent years, but we are still far from the results that astronauts would find useful.
For more information on human hibernation, see the Shelly Fan article on Singularity Hub and this NASA presentation.