The future is here and Alien is kind of real

Remember the state of suspended animation characters in films such as Alien and Austin Powers were put in to allow them to pass large amounts of time? It's now one step closer to becoming reality, thanks to Nasa.

As part of attempts to get humans to Mars by the 2030s, Nasa is considering putting astronauts in a medical comas by lowering their core body temperatures to help them eventually make the 180-day journey to Mars.

The method of statis, known as torpor, is commonly used on critically-ill patients, including Michael Schumacher after he suffered head injuries last year. So far no one has been in torpor for more than seven days but Mark Schaffer, an aerospace engineer for SpaceWorks Enterprises, told the International Astronomical Congress last week: "For human Mars missions, we need to push that to 90 days, 180 days. Those are the types of mission flight times we're talking about."

John Bradford, president of Spaceworks Enterprises, told the Times (£): "This is one of the options that’s going to enable humans to get to Mars faster, cheaper and sooner."

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