A miniaturized robot-surgeon is preparing to leave for the International Space Station (ISS) in 2024: the test mission will serve to evaluate its ability to carry out medical procedures in microgravity conditions, in order to make it a precious resource for astronauts that will inhabit future space bases on the Moon and Mars and that may be in the position of needing treatment due to injury or illness.
The robot is called Mira and was made by researchers from the US University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Researchers are preparing the little robot surgeon for his journey, making sure it is sturdy enough to survive a rocket launch and that it also works in space.
During his test aboard the ISS, Mira will operate autonomously, without the assistance of a controller, but the astronauts will not be the guinea pig: the robot will cut tightly stretched rubber bands instead of the skin and push metal rings along a wire, simulating delicate operations.
“These tests are very important”, comments Rachael Wagner, one of the team members, “because they will allow us to collect a lot of data”.
Compared to traditional robotic devices that perform surgical operations, Mira offers several advantages.
First, its instruments can be inserted through very small incisions, allowing doctors to perform minimally invasive operations.
Secondly, its technology allows you to carry out operations even remotely and autonomously.
This means that astronauts serving on the Moon or Mars could receive medical treatment without the need for a human surgeon.