A technology to let astronauts "sleep" their way to Mars is currently being researched by NASA, Yahoo News reports. The idea is one of 12 innovative technology proposals which have received research funding from the space agency.
It seems to be the classic case of science fiction predicting - or more likely inspiring - real life technologies, with the 'cryo-sleep' idea recalling the futuristic sleep pods of the Alien franchise. However, the astronauts travelling to Mars would not be going into this sort of frozen state, rather medical devices would induce a deep sleep in which their metabolic rate would drop.
Other proposals that have received research funding include a 3D printer that can print out food as well as living flesh for transplants, and a fission engine which would allow astronauts to travel to Mars in just 12 weeks.
Science fiction fanatics shouldn't hold their breath for their futuristic dreams to become reality, as NASA pointed out that "a means for full cryo-preservation and restoration remains a long way off still. However, recent medical progress is quickly advancing our ability to induce deep sleep states over extended periods of time". The future might be closer than we thought.