recommended reading

Blood in zero gravity: NASA tries to prepare for surgery in space

If humans are to one day explore beyond our moon -- to Mars, for example -- there are some pretty huge logistical hurdles that will need to be overcome. How do you prepare and package food that will last for a two-year mission? What do you do with the waste humans create?

And here's another: What happens if one of the humans has a medical emergency and needs surgery? As Carnegie Mellon professor James Antaki told New Scientist, "Based on statistical probability, there is a high likelihood of trauma or a medical emergency on a deep space mission."

This is not just a matter of whether you'll have the expertise on board to carry out such a task. Surgery in zero gravity presents its own set of potentially deadly complications.

Think about how hard it is to pee in zero gravity: You need a funnel and a tube that siphons your urine to a sewage tank. Without those tools: Urine everywhere. Consider the difficulties of brushing your teeth. It took astronaut Leroy Chiao three paragraphs to explain that process, and it involved bungee cords, drink bags, and velcro.

In zero gravity, blood and bodily fluids will not just stay put, in the body where they belong. Instead, they could contaminate the entire cabin, threatening everybody on board.

This week, NASA is testing a device known as the Aqueous Immersion Surgical System (AISS) that could possibly make space surgery possible. Designed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon and the University of Louisville, AISS is a domed box that can fit over a wound. When filled with a sterile saline solution, a water-tight seal is created that prevents fluids from escaping. It can also be used to collect blood for possible reuse. "You won't have a blood bank in space, so if there is bleeding you want to save as much blood as you can," one of the researchers, James Burgess, told New Scientist.

If it works well enough, that will be one more thing ticked off the pre-Mars to-do list.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.