FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)

 TORPOR INDUCING TRANSFER HABITAT FOR HUMAN STASIS TO MARS

 

Questions on the Mars Architecture

We are considering emergency-wake procedures for the crew. The best rewarming process for TH patients is an ongoing area of research and study. Generally, a slower warming process that is on the order of a few hours is preferred. But, this dataset is based on patients that have experienced some traumatic injury. A combination of approaches including cessation of the cooling process, active warming, and injection of adenosine, for example, could permit acceleration of the emergency-wake procedure.

Alternatively, we have evaluated an operational protocol that would have at least one crew member awake at all times and the remaining crew members on a 14-day torpor cycle. The impact to our baseline habitat mass for this approach is minimal to support this approach.

Ultimately, we would plan to have the crew stasis pods shielding to be on par with a storm shelter. Since the surface area of these pods is fairly low, the parasitic shielding mass is tolerable.

We are also looking at the option to surround the habitat with the liquid hydrogen being used for the trans-Earth injection (TEI) propulsive burn upon Mars departure. With this, the crew would have additional protection during the outbound trip to Mars and in the event of an aborted surface mission that leaves them in orbit. During the return segment, the shielding level would be reduced, however.

With the mass savings provided by our approach, we can offer and afford radiation shielding levels that would otherwise be prohibitive for an ‘active’ habitat design.

There are several potential complications associated with Torpor. The most significant risks are increased risk of bleeding and increased risk of infection. In addition, TH can adversely affect several other physiologic processes. It should be noted that all of the complications listed below are rare, and can be completely corrected through autonomous systems and monitoring of crewmembers if needed.

1. Torpor induces a mild coagulopathy (increased risk of bleeding). With body temperatures below 35ºC, clotting factors operate more slowly and platelets function less effectively. As a result, some bleeding is seen in up to 20% of patients treated with TH, although bleeding that needs to be treated with medication is rarely seen even in trauma patients and blood transfusions are rarely required.

No treatment is required for mild coagulopathy. Even mild bleeding from the nose and IV sites will still stop without treatment. The treatment for heavy bleeding associated with trauma would be the addition of clotting factors through the IV line and increasing the crew member’s blood volume with both IV fluids and blood products. Since the crewmembers will already have an IV line the process would require someone to just defrost and hook-up the needed product. Clotting factors and blood can be frozen for as long as 10 years. After thawing blood products are only usable for 42 days.

2. Torpor can impair white blood cell function. The incidence of significant infections is likely to increase if hypothermia is maintained longer than 24 hours. While an increase in infection rates has been noted in several studies, these infections have not been associated with any increased mortality (risk of death) and are usually easily treated.

Preventing the infection from occurring is the best and easiest method. This includes using improved sterile techniques for IV placement and care and for utilizing improving technology in antimicrobial IV equipment. IV antibiotics antibiotic are used if an infection does occur, and are easily administered in space.

3. Hypothermia slows heart conduction and can cause irregular heart beat patterns called arrhythmias, including bradycardia and QT interval prolongation. A heart rate in the 40’s is common at 33ºC, but does not require intervention if the blood pressure is in the normal range. Multiple studies show that TH is not associated with an increased need for medications to increase blood pressure. This would indicate that most cases of hypotension (low blood pressure) in TH patients are due to either injuries or shock and not Torpor itself.

Treatments for hypotension include increasing IV fluids to increase blood volume and the use of medications called “pressors” to artificially increase blood pressure, both of which can be performed easily in space.

4. Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) due to insulin resistance has been noted during TH. IV Insulin may be needed in severely hyperglycemic patients.

5. Hypothermia leads to a “cold diuresis,” which in turn can cause hypovolemia (low blood volume), hypokalemia (low potassium), hypomagnesaemia (low magnesium), and hypophosphatemia (low phosphates). In addition, temperature fluctuations during the induction of TH and rewarming can cause potassium to move between the extracellular and intracellular compartments. Therefore, careful monitoring of volume status and measurement of basic electrolytes approximately every three to four hours during temperature manipulation should be done. This can easily be corrected with IV fluids.

This is a question we are attempting to address but it will be some time still before it can be answered fully. While there appear to be potential benefits with torpor, we are also considering different options enabled by the use of torpor for addressing common spaceflight physiological issues. For instance, with the crew in an unconscious state, we can induce artificial gravity at higher rotation rates and lower radii without concern for discomforting Coriolis effects and gravity-gradients. Similarly, to reduce muscle atrophy, we can routinely apply electrical neuromuscular stimulation to the crew – something that would not be possible with an active crew. They may actually arrive at Mars in better physical shape than when they left Earth!

Yes, to obtain the most benefit from our approach, the crew would ideally be in stasis for both outbound and return phases. If medical technology is capable of supporting the extended torpor period, current medical evidence shows there is no detrimental impact to undergoing repeat cycles.

Questions on the Mars Architecture

We are considering emergency-wake procedures for the crew. The best rewarming process for TH patients is an ongoing area of research and study. Generally, a slower warming process that is on the order of a few hours is preferred. But, this dataset is based on patients that have experienced some traumatic injury. A combination of approaches including cessation of the cooling process, active warming, and injection of adenosine, for example, could permit acceleration of the emergency-wake procedure.

Alternatively, we have evaluated an operational protocol that would have at least one crew member awake at all times and the remaining crew members on a 14-day torpor cycle. The impact to our baseline habitat mass for this approach is minimal to support this approach.

Ultimately, we would plan to have the crew stasis pods shielding to be on par with a storm shelter. Since the surface area of these pods is fairly low, the parasitic shielding mass is tolerable.

We are also looking at the option to surround the habitat with the liquid hydrogen being used for the trans-Earth injection (TEI) propulsive burn upon Mars departure. With this, the crew would have additional protection during the outbound trip to Mars and in the event of an aborted surface mission that leaves them in orbit. During the return segment, the shielding level would be reduced, however.

With the mass savings provided by our approach, we can offer and afford radiation shielding levels that would otherwise be prohibitive for an ‘active’ habitat design.

There are several potential complications associated with Torpor. The most significant risks are increased risk of bleeding and increased risk of infection. In addition, TH can adversely affect several other physiologic processes. It should be noted that all of the complications listed below are rare, and can be completely corrected through autonomous systems and monitoring of crewmembers if needed.

1. Torpor induces a mild coagulopathy (increased risk of bleeding). With body temperatures below 35ºC, clotting factors operate more slowly and platelets function less effectively. As a result, some bleeding is seen in up to 20% of patients treated with TH, although bleeding that needs to be treated with medication is rarely seen even in trauma patients and blood transfusions are rarely required.

No treatment is required for mild coagulopathy. Even mild bleeding from the nose and IV sites will still stop without treatment. The treatment for heavy bleeding associated with trauma would be the addition of clotting factors through the IV line and increasing the crew member’s blood volume with both IV fluids and blood products. Since the crewmembers will already have an IV line the process would require someone to just defrost and hook-up the needed product. Clotting factors and blood can be frozen for as long as 10 years. After thawing blood products are only usable for 42 days.

2. Torpor can impair white blood cell function. The incidence of significant infections is likely to increase if hypothermia is maintained longer than 24 hours. While an increase in infection rates has been noted in several studies, these infections have not been associated with any increased mortality (risk of death) and are usually easily treated.

Preventing the infection from occurring is the best and easiest method. This includes using improved sterile techniques for IV placement and care and for utilizing improving technology in antimicrobial IV equipment. IV antibiotics antibiotic are used if an infection does occur, and are easily administered in space.

3. Hypothermia slows heart conduction and can cause irregular heart beat patterns called arrhythmias, including bradycardia and QT interval prolongation. A heart rate in the 40’s is common at 33ºC, but does not require intervention if the blood pressure is in the normal range. Multiple studies show that TH is not associated with an increased need for medications to increase blood pressure. This would indicate that most cases of hypotension (low blood pressure) in TH patients are due to either injuries or shock and not Torpor itself.

Treatments for hypotension include increasing IV fluids to increase blood volume and the use of medications called “pressors” to artificially increase blood pressure, both of which can be performed easily in space.

4. Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) due to insulin resistance has been noted during TH. IV Insulin may be needed in severely hyperglycemic patients.

5. Hypothermia leads to a “cold diuresis,” which in turn can cause hypovolemia (low blood volume), hypokalemia (low potassium), hypomagnesaemia (low magnesium), and hypophosphatemia (low phosphates). In addition, temperature fluctuations during the induction of TH and rewarming can cause potassium to move between the extracellular and intracellular compartments. Therefore, careful monitoring of volume status and measurement of basic electrolytes approximately every three to four hours during temperature manipulation should be done. This can easily be corrected with IV fluids.

This is a question we are attempting to address but it will be some time still before it can be answered fully. While there appear to be potential benefits with torpor, we are also considering different options enabled by the use of torpor for addressing common spaceflight physiological issues. For instance, with the crew in an unconscious state, we can induce artificial gravity at higher rotation rates and lower radii without concern for discomforting Coriolis effects and gravity-gradients. Similarly, to reduce muscle atrophy, we can routinely apply electrical neuromuscular stimulation to the crew – something that would not be possible with an active crew. They may actually arrive at Mars in better physical shape than when they left Earth!

Yes, to obtain the most benefit from our approach, the crew would ideally be in stasis for both outbound and return phases. If medical technology is capable of supporting the extended torpor period, current medical evidence shows there is no detrimental impact to undergoing repeat cycles.

Questions on the Mars Architecture

We are considering emergency-wake procedures for the crew. The best rewarming process for TH patients is an ongoing area of research and study. Generally, a slower warming process that is on the order of a few hours is preferred. But, this dataset is based on patients that have experienced some traumatic injury. A combination of approaches including cessation of the cooling process, active warming, and injection of adenosine, for example, could permit acceleration of the emergency-wake procedure.

Alternatively, we have evaluated an operational protocol that would have at least one crew member awake at all times and the remaining crew members on a 14-day torpor cycle. The impact to our baseline habitat mass for this approach is minimal to support this approach.

Ultimately, we would plan to have the crew stasis pods shielding to be on par with a storm shelter. Since the surface area of these pods is fairly low, the parasitic shielding mass is tolerable.

We are also looking at the option to surround the habitat with the liquid hydrogen being used for the trans-Earth injection (TEI) propulsive burn upon Mars departure. With this, the crew would have additional protection during the outbound trip to Mars and in the event of an aborted surface mission that leaves them in orbit. During the return segment, the shielding level would be reduced, however.

With the mass savings provided by our approach, we can offer and afford radiation shielding levels that would otherwise be prohibitive for an ‘active’ habitat design.

There are several potential complications associated with Torpor. The most significant risks are increased risk of bleeding and increased risk of infection. In addition, TH can adversely affect several other physiologic processes. It should be noted that all of the complications listed below are rare, and can be completely corrected through autonomous systems and monitoring of crewmembers if needed.

1. Torpor induces a mild coagulopathy (increased risk of bleeding). With body temperatures below 35ºC, clotting factors operate more slowly and platelets function less effectively. As a result, some bleeding is seen in up to 20% of patients treated with TH, although bleeding that needs to be treated with medication is rarely seen even in trauma patients and blood transfusions are rarely required.

No treatment is required for mild coagulopathy. Even mild bleeding from the nose and IV sites will still stop without treatment. The treatment for heavy bleeding associated with trauma would be the addition of clotting factors through the IV line and increasing the crew member’s blood volume with both IV fluids and blood products. Since the crewmembers will already have an IV line the process would require someone to just defrost and hook-up the needed product. Clotting factors and blood can be frozen for as long as 10 years. After thawing blood products are only usable for 42 days.

2. Torpor can impair white blood cell function. The incidence of significant infections is likely to increase if hypothermia is maintained longer than 24 hours. While an increase in infection rates has been noted in several studies, these infections have not been associated with any increased mortality (risk of death) and are usually easily treated.

Preventing the infection from occurring is the best and easiest method. This includes using improved sterile techniques for IV placement and care and for utilizing improving technology in antimicrobial IV equipment. IV antibiotics antibiotic are used if an infection does occur, and are easily administered in space.

3. Hypothermia slows heart conduction and can cause irregular heart beat patterns called arrhythmias, including bradycardia and QT interval prolongation. A heart rate in the 40’s is common at 33ºC, but does not require intervention if the blood pressure is in the normal range. Multiple studies show that TH is not associated with an increased need for medications to increase blood pressure. This would indicate that most cases of hypotension (low blood pressure) in TH patients are due to either injuries or shock and not Torpor itself.

Treatments for hypotension include increasing IV fluids to increase blood volume and the use of medications called “pressors” to artificially increase blood pressure, both of which can be performed easily in space.

4. Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) due to insulin resistance has been noted during TH. IV Insulin may be needed in severely hyperglycemic patients.

5. Hypothermia leads to a “cold diuresis,” which in turn can cause hypovolemia (low blood volume), hypokalemia (low potassium), hypomagnesaemia (low magnesium), and hypophosphatemia (low phosphates). In addition, temperature fluctuations during the induction of TH and rewarming can cause potassium to move between the extracellular and intracellular compartments. Therefore, careful monitoring of volume status and measurement of basic electrolytes approximately every three to four hours during temperature manipulation should be done. This can easily be corrected with IV fluids.

This is a question we are attempting to address but it will be some time still before it can be answered fully. While there appear to be potential benefits with torpor, we are also considering different options enabled by the use of torpor for addressing common spaceflight physiological issues. For instance, with the crew in an unconscious state, we can induce artificial gravity at higher rotation rates and lower radii without concern for discomforting Coriolis effects and gravity-gradients. Similarly, to reduce muscle atrophy, we can routinely apply electrical neuromuscular stimulation to the crew – something that would not be possible with an active crew. They may actually arrive at Mars in better physical shape than when they left Earth!

Yes, to obtain the most benefit from our approach, the crew would ideally be in stasis for both outbound and return phases. If medical technology is capable of supporting the extended torpor period, current medical evidence shows there is no detrimental impact to undergoing repeat cycles.

Questions on the Mars Architecture

We are considering emergency-wake procedures for the crew. The best rewarming process for TH patients is an ongoing area of research and study. Generally, a slower warming process that is on the order of a few hours is preferred. But, this dataset is based on patients that have experienced some traumatic injury. A combination of approaches including cessation of the cooling process, active warming, and injection of adenosine, for example, could permit acceleration of the emergency-wake procedure.

Alternatively, we have evaluated an operational protocol that would have at least one crew member awake at all times and the remaining crew members on a 14-day torpor cycle. The impact to our baseline habitat mass for this approach is minimal to support this approach.

Ultimately, we would plan to have the crew stasis pods shielding to be on par with a storm shelter. Since the surface area of these pods is fairly low, the parasitic shielding mass is tolerable.

We are also looking at the option to surround the habitat with the liquid hydrogen being used for the trans-Earth injection (TEI) propulsive burn upon Mars departure. With this, the crew would have additional protection during the outbound trip to Mars and in the event of an aborted surface mission that leaves them in orbit. During the return segment, the shielding level would be reduced, however.

With the mass savings provided by our approach, we can offer and afford radiation shielding levels that would otherwise be prohibitive for an ‘active’ habitat design.

There are several potential complications associated with Torpor. The most significant risks are increased risk of bleeding and increased risk of infection. In addition, TH can adversely affect several other physiologic processes. It should be noted that all of the complications listed below are rare, and can be completely corrected through autonomous systems and monitoring of crewmembers if needed.

1. Torpor induces a mild coagulopathy (increased risk of bleeding). With body temperatures below 35ºC, clotting factors operate more slowly and platelets function less effectively. As a result, some bleeding is seen in up to 20% of patients treated with TH, although bleeding that needs to be treated with medication is rarely seen even in trauma patients and blood transfusions are rarely required.

No treatment is required for mild coagulopathy. Even mild bleeding from the nose and IV sites will still stop without treatment. The treatment for heavy bleeding associated with trauma would be the addition of clotting factors through the IV line and increasing the crew member’s blood volume with both IV fluids and blood products. Since the crewmembers will already have an IV line the process would require someone to just defrost and hook-up the needed product. Clotting factors and blood can be frozen for as long as 10 years. After thawing blood products are only usable for 42 days.

2. Torpor can impair white blood cell function. The incidence of significant infections is likely to increase if hypothermia is maintained longer than 24 hours. While an increase in infection rates has been noted in several studies, these infections have not been associated with any increased mortality (risk of death) and are usually easily treated.

Preventing the infection from occurring is the best and easiest method. This includes using improved sterile techniques for IV placement and care and for utilizing improving technology in antimicrobial IV equipment. IV antibiotics antibiotic are used if an infection does occur, and are easily administered in space.

3. Hypothermia slows heart conduction and can cause irregular heart beat patterns called arrhythmias, including bradycardia and QT interval prolongation. A heart rate in the 40’s is common at 33ºC, but does not require intervention if the blood pressure is in the normal range. Multiple studies show that TH is not associated with an increased need for medications to increase blood pressure. This would indicate that most cases of hypotension (low blood pressure) in TH patients are due to either injuries or shock and not Torpor itself.

Treatments for hypotension include increasing IV fluids to increase blood volume and the use of medications called “pressors” to artificially increase blood pressure, both of which can be performed easily in space.

4. Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) due to insulin resistance has been noted during TH. IV Insulin may be needed in severely hyperglycemic patients.

5. Hypothermia leads to a “cold diuresis,” which in turn can cause hypovolemia (low blood volume), hypokalemia (low potassium), hypomagnesaemia (low magnesium), and hypophosphatemia (low phosphates). In addition, temperature fluctuations during the induction of TH and rewarming can cause potassium to move between the extracellular and intracellular compartments. Therefore, careful monitoring of volume status and measurement of basic electrolytes approximately every three to four hours during temperature manipulation should be done. This can easily be corrected with IV fluids.

This is a question we are attempting to address but it will be some time still before it can be answered fully. While there appear to be potential benefits with torpor, we are also considering different options enabled by the use of torpor for addressing common spaceflight physiological issues. For instance, with the crew in an unconscious state, we can induce artificial gravity at higher rotation rates and lower radii without concern for discomforting Coriolis effects and gravity-gradients. Similarly, to reduce muscle atrophy, we can routinely apply electrical neuromuscular stimulation to the crew – something that would not be possible with an active crew. They may actually arrive at Mars in better physical shape than when they left Earth!

Yes, to obtain the most benefit from our approach, the crew would ideally be in stasis for both outbound and return phases. If medical technology is capable of supporting the extended torpor period, current medical evidence shows there is no detrimental impact to undergoing repeat cycles.

 

Please submit any additional questions to: spacetorpor@sei.aero

Thank you!