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Medicine in Space: and other Remote Environments

Space travel is inherently dangerous - it can entail all kinds of medical hazards. From cuts and bruises to solar flares, whose radiation can break DNA molecules, and bone demineralization and muscle loss from microgravity to decompression sickness, which can trigger illness or death, crew members are subject to many physical dangers. In addition, there are mental issues to contend with: confined in a small space, engulfed in the blackness of space, astronauts are susceptible to extreme anxiety, depression, and possibly psychosis, any of which could easily jeopardize the mission.

Scientists in the Behavioral Health and Performance discipline at USRA's Division of Space Life Sciences have developed telemedicine approaches to help astronauts a long way away with sickness, fractures, and even surgery. One of the experiments involved successfully sending medical data from Mt. Everest to Canada.