Carries out an operation on the ISS controlled from Earth

On January 30, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Its payload consisted of a small metal box the size of a microwave, which looked small but with The potential to revolutionize medicine as we know it, Its destination was the International Space Station (ISS), where its launch coincided with the presence of the astronauts of the X-3 mission, commanded by the Spanish Michael López-Alegría.

It was NASA astronaut and flight engineer Loral O’Hara who was in charge of removing the packaging foam from the box and checking its connections. Inside the receptacle is waiting for SpaceMira, a robotic arm specially adapted to perform remote surgery from Earth for the first time. was its director Six American doctors meeting at the Virtual Incision Company headquarters in Lincoln (Nebraska), thanks to Mission Control from NASA’s Payload Operations Center at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

This pioneering experiment opens up endless possibilities, and not just in space missions, which are becoming increasingly longer and more distant. “The success of Spacemira A space station orbiting more than 400 km above Earth indicates how useful this could be to health care facilities on the ground,” said Shane Ferriter, a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, lead development of SpaceMIRA, and co-founder of Virtual Incision.

miniature surgical robot

For years now, Doctors around the world often operate highly precise robotic arms, even from a distance. However, they are generally large devices, so their use is limited and it is difficult for low-resource countries or regions to access them. This situation also affects smaller space missions and the environment, such as the ISS.

This is why those responsible for the virtual event have done so Work on reducing the size of these devices has been going on for two decades And expand the possibilities of using them remotely. Thus was born the space version of MIRA or “Miniature In Vivo Robotic Assistant”. It is composed of a central body from which two short flexible arms terminate in their respective metal clamps, which rotate 360 ​​degrees and serve as the precision fingers of this artificial surgeon.


An ISS astronaut takes out the small metal box in which he traveled to spaceMIRA

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From the body, between the two extremities, an endoscopic recording system is born: A cable with a camera and LED light that transmits the operation to the control center, It is designed in such a way that, miles away, specialists in the field can perform the surgery with another machine. A screen allows them to see the process in detail, while two joysticks with buttons, along with foot-operated paddles, are extensions of the robot’s grippers.

SpaceMIRA, the version aboard the ISS, has pre-programmed and remote surgical operation modes, thanks to its robotic arm being approximately 76 cm long and weighing less than 1 kg. For two hours, doctors were able to test some of its functions, such as Grab and cut 10 elastic bands of different thicknesses that served as human tissues: The thinnest samples resembled skin, while the densest samples mimicked organs such as the liver.



A surgeon is operating SpaceMira from Earth

Virtual Event / University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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During the tests, operators made 20 cuts on the front and back of the belt, taking advantage of the possibilities provided by the robotic fingers. He also had to do V.igilar Be very careful with the accuracy of the movements, because any slippage could cause the arm to hit the outer box, break it and spread its fragments throughout the space station.

The main difference with respect to other tests conducted remotely was related to microgravity and Latency factor, which was set between 0.5 and 0.75 seconds, This meant a delay in every gesture of the doctors, who had to compensate for this in different ways. Thus they verified that large activities on Earth translated into small activities on the ISS.

(This is STAR, the robot that operates on your intestine without human intervention: “It’s better than a surgeon”)

“You have to wait a while for movement to occur“These are certainly slow movements compared to what you do in the operating room,” said Lincoln colorectal surgeon Michael Jobst. He already had experience with MIRA, having previously operated on a patient’s colon using the arm. The part was successfully removed using Virtual Incision Robotics.

danger in space

When an astronaut aboard the ISS experiences a medical emergency, he or she must A rescue capsule returning to Earth in less than six hours, a margin of time that is sometimes not available. With an eye on future missions to the Moon and Mars, where astronauts will stay for months or yearsThe need for a surgeon robot that can do the job is urgent.

MIRA Remote Surgery Robot

NASA has financially supported the project and actively participated in testing, which is important for the future of space exploration. In a press release, the agency said With longer and more ambitious space missions, such as those planned with Artemis, “the potential need for emergency care increases, including Surgical procedures ranging from simple suturing of wounds to more complex activities,

In a previous experiment, former NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson took control of the robot while he was at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Meanwhile, MIRA was more than 1,400 kilometers away in an operating room at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. performing operations similar to surgery This robot has utility both in space and in hospitals around the world,


Look, surgeon robot!

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Meera can be very helpful in this Far from military operation bases and equipped medical centers, Another example of the trend that is driving the union between medicine and robotics, including inventions to solve serious diseases away from an operating room and without the experts who can treat the patient.

The machines, autonomously or with some telematic support, are responsible for the intervention at the moment, Preventing patient death in complicated transfers, As has always been the case with most human inventions for space exploration, MIRA could also be useful on this planet and in hospitals where robots and health care workers already work side by side.

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(TagstoTranslate)Health technology(T)International Space Station (ISS)(T)Robotics(T)Spain(T)Defense and space

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