Be frank with trapped miners, NASA tells Chile

August 31, 2010

A team of NASA experts in Chile to share the US space agency's experience in having men endure extensive periods of isolation told officials Tuesday to be totally frank with the 33 miners trapped underground for months to come.

The four-man team said it advised Chilean Health Minister Jaime Manalich and Mining Minister Laurence Golborne and other officials to avoid conveying "false hopes" to the trapped men.

"It's important not to build false hopes and its also important to be honest with our patients -- in this case with the miners," NASA's deputy chief medical officer James Duncan, explained to reporters in Santiago.

The miners' experience and expectation that rescue would take a long time at the depth they were at had to be taken into account, he said, drawing parallels with the training and professionalism of astronauts.

"Keep in mind that the miners do this for a living, so they know exactly how long it will take, they know how deep they are in the mine. So it's not like this is going to be a big surprise to them," he said.

Chilean officials have already told the miners they had a long wait to be rescued, but have avoided giving dates. Engineers overseeing drilling operations to get them out, though, have estimated three to four months will be required.

The team underlined that supplies and services officials were already dropping to the trapped men -- water, food, air, communication with their families -- were primordial to keeping morale high.

"It's all working for trying to keep their spirits up," Duncan said.

With Duncan were the other three members of the NASA team: space health expert Albert Willard Holland, head of space medicine James Davis Polk, and chief engineer Clint Cragg.

Manalich said he hoped to learn from NASA how to boost nutrients in food being given to the to stave off illness, and hailed Holland as a psychologist very well versed in prolonged isolation cases.

The NASA team was to travel to the scene of the mine drama, in Copiapo, on Wednesday.

Explore further: Wireless mine-rescue system tested in U.S.

Related Stories

Mine Collapse Was the Quake, not Vice Versa

August 6, 2007

Ambiguous, preliminary evidence indicates that a coal mine cave-in that trapped six miners early Monday in Utah generated seismic waves that were recorded as a magnitude-3.9 earthquake, according to the University of Utah ...

Research suggests mining in Africa is spreading TB

June 3, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Mining for gold, diamonds, and precious minerals is dangerous work, but in sub-Saharan Africa the activity could be driving an entire continent’s tuberculosis epidemic, a new Oxford-led study has found.

Mine-safety bill sent for Senate vote

May 18, 2006

New legislation sent to the Senate floor would require all mines to have state-of-the-art two-way wireless communications and tracking systems in place within the next three years.

NASA communications chief resigns

May 4, 2006

NASA officials say the agency's chief of strategic communications, Joe Davis, is leaving to take a position with a private sector public affairs firm.

Recommended for you

NASA telescope studies quirky comet 45P

November 22, 2017

When comet 45P zipped past Earth early in 2017, researchers observing from NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility, or IRTF, in Hawai'i gave the long-time trekker a thorough astronomical checkup. The results help fill in crucial ...

Cassini image mosaic: A farewell to Saturn

November 21, 2017

In a fitting farewell to the planet that had been its home for over 13 years, the Cassini spacecraft took one last, lingering look at Saturn and its splendid rings during the final leg of its journey and snapped a series ...

Uncovering the origins of galaxies' halos

November 21, 2017

Using the Subaru Telescope atop Maunakea, researchers have identified 11 dwarf galaxies and two star-containing halos in the outer region of a large spiral galaxy 25 million light-years away from Earth. The findings, published ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.