NASA undersea mission to test space medicine
11 March 2007
Washington, USA. The NASA Extreme Environment Mission
Operations (NEEMO) scheduled for May this year will include a variety of
advanced medical technology experiments, including robotic telesurgery on
Scientists and school children also will be able to
move two remotely controlled surgical robots in the underwater laboratory.
The NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations 12 (NEEMO 12)NASA will
send a flight surgeon, two astronauts and a Cincinnati doctor into the ocean
depths off the Florida coast May 7-18 to test space medicine concepts and
moon-walking techniques. It is the first undersea mission to include a NASA
|A NEEMO 11 crew
member works near the undersea habitat "Aquarius" during a
session of extravehicular activity for the NEEMO project. Image
NASA Flight Surgeon Josef Schmid, NASA Astronaut Jose Hernandez and Dr
Tim Broderick of the University of Cincinnati will be in the crew. Veteran
space flyer Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper will lead the 12-day undersea
mission aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Aquarius Underwater Laboratory.
"Schmid's unique experience in space medicine will benefit the mission
itself as well as the future development of crew care techniques for
long-duration human spaceflight missions," said NEEMO Project Manager Bill
Todd of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
demonstrations and robotic telesurgery technology developed and refined
within this mission will help surgeons overcome interplanetary communication
lag time. Technologies such as surgeon-guided automatic robot function could
improve the care of astronauts on future missions to the moon and Mars.
The crew will conduct simulated undersea "moon walks" to test concepts for
future lunar exploration. During these simulated moon walks, they will
construct an undersea structure with the help of a remotely operated
vehicle, similar to what the next travellers to the moon may do. The crew
also will practice collecting geological samples to help develop tools and
techniques for collecting lunar samples as well as train future lunar
explorers to be geologists.
James Talacek and Dominic Landucci of the
University of North Carolina at Wilmington will provide engineering support
for the submerged Aquarius habitat. The University of North Carolina at
Wilmington operates Aquarius on behalf of NOAA as part of NOAA's Undersea
Research Program. The NEEMO missions are a cooperative project among NASA,
NOAA and the university.
This will be the 12th NEEMO undersea mission.
NASA Astronaut Richard Arnold and NASA Flight Surgeon Sean Roden will serve
as backup crew members. It is the second NEEMO mission including the
University of Cincinnati and Broderick as a crew member; the first, NEEMO 9,
took place in April 2006.
Similar in size to the International Space
Station's living quarters, Aquarius is the world's only permanent underwater
habitat and laboratory. The 45-foot long, 13-foot diameter complex is three
miles off Key Largo in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, about 62
feet beneath the surface. A surface buoy provides connections for power,
life support and communications. A shore-based control centre monitors the
habitat and crew.
For more information about the NEEMO 12 crew, its
mission and Aquarius, visit: