Physicians try to determine how astronauts will handle outer space medical emergencies

outer space medical emergency spacex red dragon mars 2018 001
SpaceX/Flickr
As humanity prepares for manned missions to Mars within the next decade, physicians here on Earth are raising some of the challenges these pioneering astronauts will face. One unfortunately inevitable event will be a medical emergency. How will crew members react? How should they be trained? And what happens if the doctor dies?

Experts are tackling the topic at this year’s Euroanaesthesia Congress in Geneva, which is hosted by the European Society of Anaesthesiology.

“Space exploration missions to the moon and Mars are planned in the coming years,” Matthieu Komorowski, a physician from Charing Cross Hospital in London, said in a statement. “During these long-duration flights, the estimated risk of severe medical and surgical events, as well as the risk of loss of crew life, are significant.”

Space is a hostile and unforgiving environment. Simply by being there, astronauts increase their risk of conditions such as bone fractures and cardiovascular issues. Radiation is rampant and, without sufficient exercise, microgravity turns muscles to jelly.

“The exposure to the space environment itself disturbs most physiological systems and can precipitate the onset of space-specific illnesses,” Komorowski said.

If an emergency does occur, communications with Earth will be slow and limited, so Komorowski suggests that crews be diversely trained, with skills duplicated between personnel to increase the likelihood that a qualified person is able to treat an injured patient. “Extending basic medical training to most crew members will be extremely important,” he said.

Many of the measures taken for emergency medical care in outer space will be adapted from those used in remote regions, like at Arctic base camps. For example, crew members will be selected, in part, based on matching blood types. Medical equipment will also be 3D printed to save cargo space.

Space also poses a number of challenges to medical procedures that aren’t usually found on Earth. CPR — which is a pretty straightforward procedure on Earth — becomes a challenge in microgravity, where a person can’t use their own body weight.

A team led by Jochen Hinkelbein, a physician at the University Hospital of Cologne, is on the case. They discovered that a “handstand” technique proved to be effective in microgravity. Hinkelbein presented his findings at the conference.

Emerging Tech

The grid of the future will be powered by … giant subterranean bagpipes?

In order to transition to a more renewable-focused energy system, we need to scale up our grid storage capacity --- and our existing methods aren't going to cut it. Could compressed air be the key?
Emerging Tech

Resupply mission carries 7,600 pounds of scientific equipment to ISS

The Cygnus spacecraft has rendezvoused with the International Space Station as part of a months-long resupply mission. The craft will remain docked until July 23, while the crew take in the 7,600 pounds of research equipment it carried.
Deals

The best Amazon Prime Day 2019 deals: Everything you need to know

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is still a few months off, but it's never too early to start preparing. We've been taking a look at the best discounts from previous Prime Days to give you our predictions of what to expect this year.
Deals

Amazon drops a killer Instant Pot deal, with prices under $60

Instant Pots are the popular kitchen device known for making cooking easier and faster. Thinking of finally getting yourself one? Amazon dropped the price of the Instant Pot Duo Mini. Prepare delicious meals this Easter Sunday with this…
Emerging Tech

NASA chooses a special spot for its next crewed moon landing

Following the U.S. government's announcement last month of a desire to see American astronauts set foot on the moon again in the next five years, NASA has revealed a location on the lunar surface where it would most like to land.
Emerging Tech

Gravitational forces at heart of Milky Way shaped this star cluster like a comet

Hubble has captured the stunning Messier 62 cluster. The cluster is warped, with a long tail which stretches out to form a shape like a comet. It is thought this distortion is due to Messier 62's proximity to the center of the galaxy.
Emerging Tech

Burgers are just the beginning: Embracing the future of lab-grown everything

You’ve almost certainly heard of the 'farm to fork' movement, but what about 'lab to table'? Welcome to the fast-evolving world of lab-grown meat. Is this the future of food as we know it?
Emerging Tech

Troubleshooting Earth

It’s no secret that humans are killing the planet. Some say it’s actually so bad that we’re hurtling toward a sixth major extinction event -- one which we ourselves are causing. But can technology help us undo the damage we’ve…
Emerging Tech

Inside the Ocean Cleanup’s ambitious plan to rid the ocean of plastic waste

In 2013, Boyan Slat crowdfunded $2.2 million to fund the Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization that builds big, floating trash collectors and sets them out to sea, where they’re designed to autonomously gobble up garbage.
Emerging Tech

Climeworks wants to clean the atmosphere with a fleet of truck-sized vacuums

Using machines that resemble jet engines, Climeworks wants to fight climate change by extracting CO2 from thin air. The gas can then be sold to carbonated drink and agriculture companies, or sequestered underground.
Emerging Tech

How 3D printing has changed the world of prosthetic limbs forever

When he was 13 years old, Christophe Debard had his leg amputated. Here in 2019, Debard's Print My Leg startup helps others to create 3D-printed prostheses. Welcome to a growing revolution!
Emerging Tech

Geoengineering is risky and unproven, but soon it might be necessary

Geoengineering is a field dedicated to purposely changing the world's climate using technology. Call it 'playing god' if you must; here's why its proponents believe it absolutely must happen.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Earth Day, indoor container farming, robot submarines

Today on Digital Trends Live, we discuss how technology intersects with Earth Day, a new Tim Cook biography, indoor container farming, robot spy submarines, A.I. death metal, and more.
Gaming

Google’s Stadia is the future of gaming, and that’s bad news for our planet

Google’s upcoming Stadia cloud gaming service, and its competitors, are ready to change the way gamers play, but in doing so they may kick off a new wave of data center growth – with unfortunate consequences for the environment.