To cope with the isolation, trapped Chilean miners received Sony's PSP and other gadgets to keep entertained.
Monday Chilean officials said that they would begin drilling a rescue shaft to retrieve 33 miners trapped more than 2,300 feet below the earth's surface. The miners have been stuck underground since an August 5 cave-in, and are living off food, water and other supplies funneled in through a four-inch-wide tube snaked down to their position.
Despite the current rescue effort, Chilean officials said that it could take up to three or four months to extract the trapped miners. In the meantime, a four-person team from NASA will be shuttled in to provide behavioral health and physical support to the miners. NASA believes that isolated environments such as space and underground caves are no different, thus will apply its knowledge and experience.
To help alleviate the mental stress, Chilean officials have sent down Sony's PlayStation Portable handheld gaming device. Each miner will receive the unit along with his daily necessities. There was no indication on how the device will be recharged, as the PSP battery holds a charge of around six hours. Currently the miners are using vehicle batteries to power the bulbs in their helmets.
In addition to the PSP units, the miners will also receive flashlights, playing cards, MP3 players, speakers, a mini-TV projector, movies, recording of soccer games in addition to bed frames, shampoo, towels and other needed items. A cable to provide electrical power and fiber optic communications may also be dropped down into the mines.
"We have to make sure the miners are physically and psychologically fit," said Minister of Health Jaime Mañalich. "If they lose their mental balance, it could create panic and violence down there, and that would be a huge catastrophe."
A diagram of the mine can be found here. Currently the miners are unaware of the possible three to four month stay underground.