NASA Deploys Diagnostic Tools to Handle Astronaut Well being | Enterprise | Sep 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 19, 2022 — As NASA plans to ship to astronauts farther into area and for longer durations, managing and sustaining astronauts’ well being has develop into extra vital than ever. In a latest know-how demonstration mission, consultants from NASA’s Human Analysis Program’s Exploration Medical Functionality (ExMC) workforce examined the Reusable Handheld Electrolyte and Laboratory Know-how for People (rHEALTH) ONE biomedical analyzer, a conveyable gadget that makes use of laser know-how to diagnose sickness or damage.

Launched to the Worldwide House Station (ISS) in February, rHEALTH is a miniature circulation cytometer that detects cells and different biomarkers to evaluate organic adjustments. It was put by a sequence of checks on the area station over two days by Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European House Company). The ExMC analysis group, which is working to supply medical instruments and capabilities for astronauts to make use of in exploration spaceflight, tailored the rHEALTH analyzer to be used in microgravity.

NASA Deploys Diagnostic Tools to Handle Astronaut Well being | Enterprise | Sep 2022


ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti operates the rHEALTH analyzer on the Worldwide House Station in Could 2022. Courtesy of NASA. 


There are a selection of medical circumstances that may have an effect on astronauts who reside for extended durations in area, together with blood clots, kidney stones, radiation publicity, and a spread of different sicknesses and accidents. However entry to conventional medical diagnostics and coverings when engaged on the moon and even Mars wouldn’t be out there.

“Astronauts may use rHEALTH to carry out a full self-diagnosis with out technical coaching,” mentioned Eugene Chan, inventor of the unit. “They solely want a drop of blood, saliva, or urine to place into the reader and inside minutes they’ve the outcomes of a spread of essential well being indicators.”

The gadget gives a two-pronged method. A sensor affixed to the chest streams real-time very important indicators to the astronauts and to NASA’s medical workforce on Earth. Moreover, the astronaut collects a single organic pattern (e.g., blood, saliva, and many others.) on a nanostrip and inserts it into the gadget.

Contained in the rHEALTH reader, microfluidic know-how performs dilution, mixing, and full pattern prep.

The pattern is then uncovered to 2 lasers that learn and analyze it, amassing over 100 million uncooked information factors for particles the dimensions of cells. 1000’s of checks are recorded, referenced to calibrators, and communicated to the astronaut and to physicians on the bottom, inside minutes. Such a demo utilizing small samples is the primary of its type in orbit, permitting astronauts the potential to get way more biomedical info, and quicker, in response to NASA.

Previous to its the launch to the station, the rHEALTH analyzer was modified to operate in microgravity. On Earth, gravity pulls water to the underside of containers and air rises to the highest. However in area, the 2 float freely collectively. Engineers tailored all of the exterior connections to seal within the water and create air/water separation strategies to maintain air bubbles out. The workforce developed a container that may very well be squeezed simply and made an meeting with tender medical balloons that resembles a pair of lungs. The rHEALTH unit makes use of that to push water with air strain to circulation a pattern by the gadget.

The ExMC’s mission consists of advancing medical system design for exploration past low Earth orbit and selling human well being and efficiency in area in collaboration with different scientists. These scientists consider numerous commercially out there medical applied sciences developed on the bottom to check them aboard ISS for potential use in future area exploration.

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