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WILD BITES: How can arctic squirrels help us get to Mars?

caption: Arctic ground squirrels can hibernate for up to eight months of the year.
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Arctic ground squirrels can hibernate for up to eight months of the year.
Lesa Hollen

Elon Musk is the billionaire founder of SpaceX and has a grand vision. His sights are set on Mars. He wants to see a million people living there by 2050.

Now you might wonder why a podcast about ecology is doing a show on space travel. Well, the journey on a spaceship out to the red planet is long and could take months, if not years. One idea to make that ride a bit more bearable and efficient is the use of hibernation: Sleep your way to Mars or beyond. You’ve seen it in sci-fi movies before.

Well, that idea may not be as far out there as it seems. There’s a wild animal and a team of researchers that might hold the clue to making it a reality. On this WILD BITE, how can an arctic ground squirrel help get us to Mars?

caption: Two Arctic ground squirrels
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Two Arctic ground squirrels
Dr. Rhiannan Williams

THE WILD is a production of KUOW in Seattle in partnership with Chris Morgan and Wildlife Media. It is produced by Matt Martin and edited by Jim Gates. It is hosted, produced and written by Chris Morgan. Fact checking by Apryle Craig. Our theme music is by Michael Parker.

Follow us on Instagram (@thewildpod) for more adventures and behind the scenes action!

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