Feeds

NASA field tests ISS robosurgeon

Remote-controlled sawbones

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Four astronauts will assist in a landmark surgical procedure tomorrow which will lay the groundwork for remote surgery on astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS).

The operation will take place in an undersea theatre in the US, with the aid of a robot, while the surgeon will be 2000 miles away in Canada. For the first time the instructions will be sent by radio, rather than by cable. The NASA team will travel to the underwater lab today.

Surgeon Mehran Anvari of St Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, will perform the operation on a surgical dummy, New Scientist reports.

He will use the Zeus robotic surgical system to control a robot in the Aquarius lab, 19 metres under water in Florida. The robot has three arms, one of which features an endoscope. The system was originally developed to give the surgeon more control over very delicate operations.

Although the robot was designed to operate in the vicinity of the patient, Anvari will have sufficient control over the robot to carry out minor surgeries, like a gall bladder removal, provided the signal is not delayed by more than 0.7s. Signal latency should not be an issue in orbit, either.

As well as assisting in the wireless, remote surgery, the NASA astronauts will try to perform various procedures on themselves under Anvari's remote direction. The idea is to find out how much medical knowledge and expertise is needed to carry out various medical procedures. Tim Broderick of the University of Cincinnati, says that the Aquarius lab is a good facsimile of the ISS. He points out that people can’t be ferried quickly to and from an underwater station any more than they can be shuttled speedily in and out of orbit.

The results of the experiment might help answer the question of whether to install a robotic surgeon on board the ISS, or continue to bring astronauts back to Earth if they need surgery. Bringing an astronaut down is an expensive business, and NASA would surely prefer to avoid it if possible. ®

Related stories

Broken oxygen generator threatens space station
ESA commissions super spacesuit
US space tourist set for blast-off

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.