NEEMO begins a New Adventure
By Lisa LaMotta, Editorial Intern
The NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) next project is to practice conducting long-distance health care from the National Oceanic Administration’s (NOAA) Aquarius Underwater Laboratory which is located off the coast of Key Largo, Fla.
Three astronauts and a doctor, Canadian astronaut Dave Williams, NASA astronauts Mike Barrett and Cady Coleman, and Dr. Craig McKinley of the Center for Minimal Access Surgery at St. Joseph’s Healthcare, will test the functionality of health care procedures such as telemonitoring and telerobotic surgery. The purpose of this project is to test the performance of health care operations in a remote environment, as they may be needed in places like the International Space Station or missions to Mars.
“Astronauts navigating between planets won’t be able to turn around and come home when someone gets sick, and this undersea mission will help chart a course for long-distance healing,” said NEEMO Project Manager Bill Todd in a recent press release. “Aquarius, with its physical and psychological isolation on the floor of the Atlantic, will provide the real stresses needed to validate telemedicine in an extreme environment.”
The Aquarius Underwater Laboratory is the only permanent underwater facility; it is approximately the size of the living quarters in the International Space Station. The 45-foot long, 13-foot diameter complex is three miles off Key Largo in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. It rests about 62 feet beneath the surface.
Lisa LaMotta is an editorial intern for SCI magazine. She may be contacted at email@example.com.