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Space offshoot: NASA inventions for health and medicine

24 Oct 2014  | Elena Malykhina

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 Device that provides quick medical readings

(Source: NASA)

Device that provides quick medical readings

With the ultimate goal of putting humans on Mars, NASA needs systems that ensure the health and safety of astronauts. DNA Medical Institute received a monetary award from Glenn Research Center to develop a device that can analyse various health indicators in a simple test. The resulting product was the rHealth sensor. It uses a single blood sample and nanostrips—which are similar to urine analysis or pH test strips that have been shrunk "over a billion-fold in volume," according to DNA Medical Institute—to measure dozens of biomarkers. In addition to being useful in space, the technology can be used in rural areas that don't have easy access to labs.

 Simulators that train emergency caregivers

(Source: NASA)

Simulators that train emergency caregivers

The Johnson Space Center teamed up METI (now CAE Healthcare) to develop ruggedised patient simulators—lifelike dolls—to train astronauts in microgravity environments aboard reduced-gravity aircraft. The ruggedised design has now found its way into dolls that are used to train first responders, fire departments and other agencies that work in disaster zones. For example, the Army Medics and the Air Force's Critical Care Air Transport Team use the ruggedised models in emergency exercises. One of the newest models comes with additional improvements, such as the ability to operate wirelessly.

 Solar refrigerators that store vaccines

(Source: NASA)

Solar refrigerators that store vaccines

NASA's photovoltaic technology has powered components on spacecraft, rovers and the ISS. The space agency transferred the technology for other uses on Earth, including solar-powered refrigerators. SunDanzer Refrigeration Inc. created a battery-free unit that can safely store vaccines in rural and remote areas around the world with limited access to electricity. The vaccine refrigerator was approved for use by the World Health Organization.


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