Hibernation and Torpor: Prospects for Human Spaceflight

  • G. Petit
  • D. Koller
  • L. SummererEmail author
  • G. Heldmaier
  • V. V. Vyazovskiy
  • M. Cerri
  • R. H. Henning
Living reference work entry


Despite substantial technical progress in the last decades, long-distance human space travel beyond the Earth-Moon system still represents a challenge. Resources for sustaining humans in good physical and mental health on such journeys are important drivers of complexity and cost. Every kilogram of mass and every cubic meter of volume reduction will reduce the total cost and increase the feasibility and thus the chances of success of such missions. Torpor and hibernation are solutions developed by animals to cope with severe resource restrictions and hostile environments. Reducing the demands on life support systems by putting humans into a state of hibernation might appear like a story straight out of science fiction. This chapter attempts to demonstrate that this concept is no longer in the realm of science fiction by providing an overview of the current scientific understanding of the processes of hibernation and torpor.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Petit
    • 1
  • D. Koller
    • 1
  • L. Summerer
    • 2
    Email author
  • G. Heldmaier
    • 3
  • V. V. Vyazovskiy
    • 4
  • M. Cerri
    • 5
  • R. H. Henning
    • 6
  1. 1.Advanced Concepts Team (TEC-SF)ESA – European Space Agency ESTECNoordwijkThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality; Advanced Concepts and Studies OfficeESA – European Space AgencyNoordwijkThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Institute for Animal PhysiologyPhilipps University MarburgMarburgGermany
  4. 4.Department of Physiol. Anatomy and GeneticsUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  5. 5.Department of Biomedical and NeuroMotor SciencesUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly
  6. 6.Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacology; EB 70University Medical Center Groningen, University of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

Section editors and affiliations

  • Erik Seedhouse
    • 1
  1. 1.MiltonCanada

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