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Robotic surgery is another option that has been used routinely on Earth and tested for planetary excursions.
During Neemo 7, a series of missions in the underwater habitat Aquarius in Florida Keys by Nasa, surgery by a robot controlled from another lab was successfully used to remove a fake gallbladder and kidney stone from a fake body.
However, the lag in communications in space will make remote control a problem. Ideally, surgical robots would need to be autonomous.
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But how likely is it that an astronaut will actually need surgery?
As well as distance, the extreme environment faced during transit to and on Mars includes
The surgeries carried out in space so far have revealed that a large amount of support equipment is essential. This is a luxury the crew may not have on a virgin voyage to Mars.
When orbiting or settled on Mars, however, we would ideally need a hypothetical “traumapod”, with radiation shielding, surgical robots, advanced life support and restraints.
Bodily fluids will also behave differently in space and on Mars. The blood in our veins may stick to instruments due to surface tension.
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