MANNED MISSIONS TO MARS:
THE POTENTIAL USES OF DIAGNOSTIC SONOGRAPHY
Arthur C. Fleischer, M.D.
Center for Space Physiology and Medicine
It has been said that all the “hardware” for a manned mission to Mars is currently available or can be readily modified from available technology.1 However, the major limitations in accomplishing such a mission primarily involve uncertainties involving human factors.
Thee are major unknowns involving the effect of long-duration (greater than the longest Mir mission of 14 months) exposure to microgravity with intervening episodes of up to 29 forces expected on entry to and exit from Mars as well as during Earth re-entry. This web site provides an overview of the potential perils of such a mission and proposes possible countermeasures to these. It is divided into discussions of the predictable perils during transit to and from Mars (the Journey) and those that may occur while the space crew is on the surface of Mars (Habitation and Exploration). The potential uses of diagnostic sonography during such a mission are also addressed.
There are many potential applications of diagnostic sonography for long-duration space flights. Part of the challenge to optimize its use involves teaching physicians and non-physicians how to use it well and properly interpret the images that are generated. In addition, enhanced techniques for transmission of images across millions of miles in space to be interpreted by experienced sonographers and sonologist need to be considered. This paper provides a basis for continued discussion and refinement of this extremely useful diagnostic modality for long duration space missions.