One year ago on Oct. 14, 2010, the last of the 33 men trapped since Aug. 5 in a Chilean copper mine approximately 2,300 below the Earth's surface was pulled to safety with help from an unlikely source - NASA.It was a dire situation. While Chile's government agencies were devising rescue plans, they began seeking advice and information from other governments and organizations on how to assist the trapped miners. One of the organizations that responded to the call for assistance was NASA.
NASA quickly formed a team that included: Dr. Michael Duncan, Dr. J. D. Polk, both medical doctors, Dr. Albert W. Holland, a psychologist, and Clinton H. Cragg, an engineer. The team spent three days at the rescue site in Chile, assessing the parallels between the miner's plight and life in space.
Their advice ranged from warning rescuers that giving the starving men too much food too quickly could prove fatal to suggesting the miners wear sunglasses to protect their eyes when they surfaced after more than two months underground.The NASA team also provided suggested design requirements to the Chilean government for the innovative rescue capsule that ultimately saved the lives of the miners.