Mars is the next frontier, according to people like Elon Musk. A Valley doctor wants to be the first surgeon treating people traveling to -- and living on -- the red planet.
“I’ve always wanted to be an astronaut,” said Dr. Eric Petersen, surgery resident at Banner University Medical Center. Two years into his residency, Petersen is putting it on hold to take part in an aerospace medicine program at Wright State University.
"The difficulty of going to Mars is that you have communication delays, you have minimal supplies, they don’t really have an idea of how they would handle a trauma, per say."
He wants to figure out the solutions, from scaling robotics and using specialized chambers and 3-D printed instruments.
"How would you do some of the same things we do here, with all of the resources that we have, when you have none?”
Petersen will rotate through Johnson Space Center, Kennedy Space Center and other locations during his program. After two years, he’ll return to Banner to finish his five-year residency where he hopes to initially apply his out-of-this-world thinking.
"We have this tiny little space station that we're trying to keep everyone alive on,” he said. “You have these really complex problems and if you can solve them, often times, the solutions give you nice little solutions to problems here on Earth."