Autonomous Medical Operations (AMO)

Medical testing procedures underway on the ISS.

In this image, ultrasound procedures help provide for medical diagnoses on the International Space Station. The medical kit on the ISS is basic, and all astronauts receive basic medical training prior to blasting into orbit: life-saving skills, how to stitch a wound, how to give an injection, and even how to pull a tooth. But faced with a far more serious medical emergency – what would they do? The AMO project is investigating development of a Medical Decision Support System to augment crew members’ medical capabilities when they are out of direct contact with Earth. Credits: NASA

AMO intends to develop an on-board software system, the preliminary Medical Decision Support System, or MDSS, which will enable astronauts on long-duration exploration missions to operate autonomously while independent of Earth contact.

The current space flight medical scenario relies heavily on telemedicine and ground clinical support. Long-duration missions will require a chief medical officer to handle both routine medical check-ups and issues of emergent care that might arise while out of contact with ground resources. A challenge for missions beyond low-Earth orbit is to minimize the impact of potential delays between transmission and receipt of expert medical advice. Other challenges include potential medical misdiagnosis incidents and the need for assistance during clinical procedures.

In support of NASA’s strategic thrust to advance “human augmentation” capabilities, the Autonomous Medical Operations (AMO) project primarily intends to develop an on-board software system, the preliminary Medical Decision Support System, or MDSS, which will enable astronauts on long-duration exploration missions to operate autonomously while independent of Earth contact. Such a system is not intended to replace a chief medical officer, but rather to support the medical actions by providing advice and procedure recommendations during emergent care and clinical work performed by crew.

The planned end deliverable is a prototype ultrasound and advisory system (on the International Space Station or in an analog test bed), next generation inference engine and advisory software to the Human Research Program.

Principal Technologist Project Manager
Terry Fong (terry.fong@nasa.gov) David E. Thompson (david.e.thompson@nasa.gov )

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