Cincinnati—Two NASA astronauts and a NASA flight surgeon will be at the University of Cincinnati (UC) Monday, March 5, for the announcement of NASA’s 12th underwater Extreme Environment Mission Operation (NEEMO 12).
UC’s Timothy Broderick, MD, will be part of the undersea crew—together with astronauts Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, Jose Hernandez and flight surgeon Josef Schmid—and will also head NEEMO 12’s scientific research program.
A gastrointestinal surgeon, Broderick, became an “aquanaut” as part of the NEEMO 9 mission in 2006.
The NEEMO 12 crew will “splash down” May 7 for 12 days submerged aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Aquarius Underwater Laboratory off the Florida coast.
The crew’s goal is to further refine surgical technologies to be used in long space voyages. The aquanauts will test two remotely controlled surgical robots in a variety of advanced medical experiments, including robotic telesurgery on simulated patients.
At 10 a.m. Monday, mission leader Bill Todd of United Space Alliance and NASA’s Johnson Space Center will review the mission’s key scientific objectives and then introduce members of the crew in room 427 at the Engineering Research Center on UC’s West Campus. More than 100 local school children and science-focused UC students are expected to attend.
At 1:30 p.m., Broderick and his crewmates will visit with patients at Cincinnati Shriners Hospital for Children.
At 3 p.m., the crewmates return to room 427, where UC will host an exploration-focused seminar—“Collaborations and Innovation in Exploration”—on how discoveries and innovations like those made through NEEMO 12 could translate into future job opportunities for students in UC’s medical and engineering colleges.
Technology applications developed and refined during the NEEMO 12 mission, Broderick says, will help surgeons overcome interplanetary communication lag time and could improve the care of astronauts on future missions to the moon and Mars.
“We need to figure out better ways to care for astronauts before we make the long trip to Mars,” Broderick says. “Telemedicine and robotic surgery could be the key to maintaining the health of future spacefarers and responding to medical emergencies in space.”
More information on the NEEMO initiative is available at www.nasa.gov/neemo.