This Robotic Surgeon Climbs Inside Astronauts' Belly Buttons

If you're an astronaut on your way to Mars, there aren't too many options if your appendix bursts. That's why a Nebraska-based technology company has developed mini robot space surgeons that can actually climb inside of astronauts' bodies. The first zero-gravity tests on the machine are about to begin.

It sounds creepy, but this thing could save lives in the not-too-distant future. While astronauts who go to the International Space Station are only ever a few hours away from home thanks to an emergency escape pod, the men and women on the planned missions to an asteroid and Mars simply won't have that option. This robot, made by Virtual Incision, is designed to do it all with a satellite link back to Earth, where a doctor controls the surgical arms, as they enter the astronaut through his belly button, and navigates the abdomen with the help of a small camera.

Now, space surgery is very difficult. Or at least we think it is, because we haven't tried it. The weightless environment makes any type of bleeding a terrible mess, and the surgeon—robot or not—can't just place tools down on a table. To cope with these challenges, the robotic surgeon will start zero-gravity tests in an airplane in the next few months. From there on out, we can only assume that space medicine will work like that scene in Prometheus. Except, you know, without the killer alien. [New Scientist]

This is Prometheus, a sci-fi movie that could soon resemble real life.

Image via Virtual Incision Corporation