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NEEMO 9 Mission Journal

NEEMO Topside Report – Mission Day 2
Tuesday, April 4, 2006

JSC2006-E-13167 –- Nicole Stott, Ross Hein and Tim Broderick Image above: Nicole Stott and Ross Hein assist Tim Broderick in applying a net with electrodes for an electroencephalogram study. Credit: NASA

Today at 10:38 a.m. Ron Garan, Nicole Stott, and Tim Broderick joined an elite group of people in this world who have spent 24 hours under the sea in "saturation," making them the world's three newest aquanauts. Ross Hein and Jim Buckley, of course, were already experienced aquanauts, and Dave Williams is now a two-time "aquastronaut"!

Today the crew focused on the first of the Center for Minimal Access Surgery (CMAS) experiments, which is an investigation on the Impact of Latency on Human Performance and Brain Activity.

In remote telesurgery, a surgeon controls a multi-armed robot located at the patient's bedside from a distant location using a telecommunications network. This emerging technology has the potential to provide emergency medical and surgical care to astronauts during space flights, soldiers injured in battle, and patients living in remote regions on earth where there are no physicians.

However, one of the major limitations of remote telesurgery is the time delay - or "latency" that occurs when the video images and signals controlling the robotic arms are transmitted over long distances. Previous research has shown that surgeons can adapt to latencies of 200 – 500 milliseconds, but the time delays that occur when signals are sent via satellite can be well over 1 second, and the time it takes signals to travel from the earth to the moon is approximately 2 seconds. Therefore, we will need to find a way to deal with longer latencies if remote telesurgery is going to be used during space travel.

The CMAS 1 experiment will investigate how longer time delays (up to 2 seconds) affect the astronauts' ability to perform certain tasks We will use a device called an electroencephalogram (EEG) to record their brain activity so that we can study which areas of the brain are responsible for adapting to latency. This information will allow us to develop strategies that will enhance the brain's ability to adapt to latency and minimize its negative effects on performance.

During this experiment, the crewmembers will use a laptop computer to perform four different tasks that mimic the movements surgeons make when manipulating a robotic device. They will repeat each task with a varying amount of delay and it will vary from real-time to 2 seconds. While the crewmembers are performing each task, an EEG device will record their brain activity using electrodes held in place by a net worn on their heads. Following the mission, experts in brain activity will study the EEG data in order to determine which areas of the brain are involved in adapting to latency. Hopefully this research will help us to one day deliver telesurgical medical care to the most remote corners of the Earth - and to the Moon!

 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 15
"The barracuda seemed particularly impressed with this new structure and hovered around the truss element facing into the current! "
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 14
"Scuttle bunny was flying around the reef at quite a pace with test pilot Ron at the controls."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 13
"But what a sight after we turned off our lights. Bioluminescent creatures ... lit up the sea around us."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 12
"We're sitting at the galley table writing our journals and as usual we're distracted by the beauty out the galley view port."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 11
"As the sun began to set in the world above, I swam into the wet porch feeling very much a resident of the reef."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 10
"It was pretty exciting to me to be here living and working on Aquarius on the 25th anniversary of STS-1."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 9
"As I write this a large sea turtle just decided to park its belly on our main view port (where I'm presently sitting)."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 8
"This marks the first time in human history an entire robotic surgical platform was transported to an extreme environment ... and was manipulated successfully from afar."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 7
"There is nothing quite like the transition from a warm bed to a cold wetsuit to wake you up in the morning!"
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 6
"The EEG net leaves a particularly attractive series of marks on the subject's head-- looks like we have been kissed by an octopus."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 5
"It's ... incredible to watch the sunset from 47 feet beneath the surface."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 4
"Today was a day filled with outreach events, both 'educational' (to school children) and 'public affairs' (to media)."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 3
"One of the highlights of the day was our videoconference with Jeff Williams and Bill McArthur on the International Space Station."
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 NEEMO 9 Mission Journal Number 1
"I'm looking forward to my first night of 'sleeping with the fishes.'"
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 NEEMO 9 Training Journal Number 6
"The mission as planned will be the most complex and longest NEEMO and Aquarius mission to date."
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 NEEMO 9 Training Journal Number 5
"It was an interesting experience talking to one another and looking out the windows into the ocean while standing on the bottom at 60 feet!!"
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 NEEMO 9 Training Journal Number 4
"Ross ... intentionally swam Nicole and I around in circles to try and get us lost. He did a pretty good job!"
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 NEEMO 9 Training Journal Number 3
"The pace is beginning to pick-up with more diving tasks being added every day."
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 NEEMO 9 Training Journal Number 2
"On our way out, we saw a pod of dolphins which started following the boat and leaping out of the waves."
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 NEEMO 9 Training Journal Number 1
"Today was our first day of training in our final week before the mission."
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Last Updated: April 26, 2006
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