ADVERTISEMENT

NASA Tests Robot Surgeon for Missions to Moon, Mars

Extended missions to the moon or Mars mean that astronauts may need improved medical care and even the ability to perform surgery in space

1 of 7

UNDERSEA OPERATING THEATER:

NASA previously tested the R7 in May as part of a 12-day NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) mission during which a six-member crew tested the M7's ability to conduct a variety of advanced medical technology experiments, including robotic telesurgery, in a laboratory located more than 60 feet beneath the ocean's surface.....[ More ]

SMOOTH OPERATOR:

The M7 debuted in 1997 as a device for testing how robotic equipment could assist with the care of soldiers on a battlefield. A decade later, the device includes software designed to allow the M7's robotic arms to account for sudden and severe changes in movement.....[ More ]

SKIN DEEP:

During this week's test flights, surgeons practice incisions and sutures both by hand and using the M7 on a special six-inch square of multilayer material designed to resemble human skin. The surgeons are trying to cut down to the layer called the fascia--a fibrous tissue network located between the skin and the underlying structure of muscle and bone--and then suture their incisions.....[ More ]

ROBOT DR.:

Each arm of the M7, created by SRI International, weighs about 10 pounds and is about the same size as a human arm. Surgeons manipulate the arms using controllers and view the operation through a camera mounted between the arms.....[ More ]

WEIGHTLESS:

Astronauts experience about 30 seconds of zero gravity during each parabolic arc.....[ More ]

UPS AND DOWNS:

The C-9 aircraft's test flights last as long as three hours and fly in arcs that reach as high as 32,000 feet and dip down to 24,000 feet. The plane's nose is kept at a 45-degree angle during ascent and descent, creating alternating periods of hyper, negative and zero gravity.....[ More ]

SPACE FLIGHT:

Onboard a military C-9 aircraft flying in parabolic arcs over the Gulf of Mexico, four surgeons and four astronauts perform simulated surgery by hand and using a robotic device to determine if the robot's software can compensate for errors in movement that can occur in moments of turbulence and transition in gravity.....[ More ]

risk free title graphic

YES! Send me a free issue of Scientific American with no obligation to continue the subscription. If I like it, I will be billed for the one-year subscription.

cover image Subscribe Now
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Share this Article:
Scientific American Back To School

Back to School Sale!

12 Digital Issues + 4 Years of Archive Access just $19.99

Order Now >

X

Email this Article

X