May 09, 2007

NASA begin undersea mission to test medicine, techniques

A flight surgeon, two astronauts and a Cincinnati doctor began a 12-day NASA mission to depths of the ocean off the Florida coast on Monday to test space medicine concepts and moon-walking techniques.

Aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Aquarius Underwater Laboratory, the crew of the 'NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations 12' (NEEMO 12) will conduct a variety of advanced medical technology experiments, including robotic telesurgery on simulated patients.

It is the first undersea mission to include a NASA flight surgeon.

"Flight Surgeon Josef 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 space flight missions," NEEMO Project Manager, Bill Todd, said in a statement.

Hands-on telesurgery demonstrations and robotic tele-surgery 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.

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