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NASA NEEMO 12 Mission Day 2 - New Aquanauts

Status Report From: NOAA Aquarius Undersea Laboratory
Posted: Saturday, May 12, 2007

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Today at ~ 10:20 am Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper, Jose Hernandez, and Joe Schmid joined an elite group of people in this world who have spent 24 hours under the sea in "saturation", making them the world's 3 newest aquanauts. James Talacek, Dominic Landucci, and Tim Broderick of course, were already veteran aquanauts. Heide, by virtue of having flown in space and lived under the sea, becomes the 15th "aquastronaut"!

Telesurgical robotics represents a new, exciting dimension in healthcare. NEEMO 12 provides an extremely unique platform to test new robotic systems in an extreme environment 50 feet below the ocean surface.

During the NEEMO 12, the team will be conducting a variety of advanced technology experiments including robotic telesurgery. Using two remotely controlled surgical robots, school children in Cincinnati and scientists in Nashville will be able to control the robotic arms of these robots in the Aquarius habitat. The surgical robots are known as the RAVEN from the University of Washington and the M-7 from SRI International. The videoconferencing capabilities are supported by HaiVision Systems, Inc. (Montreal, Canada). In addition to hands-on demonstrations, robotic telesurgery technology tested during the mission will help scientists and surgeons understand the challenges of distance and interplanetary communication time delay. Technologies such as surgeon-guided automatic robot function could improve the care of astronauts on future lunar missions as well as soldiers in the battlefield.

The University of Washington's (UW) BioRobotics Lab looks at the NEEMO mission as a grand opportunity to test the robustness and capabilities of the RAVEN surgical robot. Supporting us here from UW are Mitch Lum and Diana Friedman. The BioRobotics Lab's mission is to develop science, technology, and human resources at the interface between robotics and biological movement systems. The goal is to produce useful, innovative research and technology as well as trained researchers fluent in both technological and biological systems, and the tasks they are performing with the RAVEN this week support that objective.

Finally, the crew was involved in lunar surface exploration activities. Since we can change the "weight" of a crewmember using buoyancy, we can make them feel as if they are in the 1/6 gravity environment of the Moon. That's a good thing once you add the heavy spacesuits! Their first exploration activity involved picking up a quick surface sample (in case they had to immediately depart), and methodically surveying the working area and marking geological sites of interest so they can return on a future day and do more detailed analyses.

Thanks for following along.

-NEEMO 12 Topside Team

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