Ten ways that astronauts are helping you stay healthy – Space Daily
Astronauts on the International Space Station are growing crystals that could help develop new drugs for use on Earth. Here are ten healthcare technologies that have already come from space:
1. Robots that can remove brain tumours
Developed in Canada during the Space Shuttle era, Canadarm2 is a robotic arm that is attached to the outside of the International Space Station. It is used for many tasks outside the space station to avoid astronauts having to complete high-risk space walks. This technology led to the creation of neuroArm, that can perform precision surgery inside MRI scanners, such as removing brain tumours.
2. Eye trackers used in laser eye surgery
In space, the lack of gravity changes the way the eyes move and perceive motion. High-tech eye trackers were developed to see where astronauts look during their normal work in micro-gravity. Eye movements are a problem faced in corrective laser eye surgery. Eye trackers developed for spaceflight are now being used in corrective laser eye surgery to ensure correct laser beam positioning.
3. Helping asthmatics breathe
Nitric oxide is a commonly found pollutant in the air, both on Earth and on the International Space Station. When a person has inflamed airways, as seen in asthmatics, an increase in nitric oxide is seen in exhaled air. The European Space Agency has developed a device that accurately measures nitric oxide in the exhaled air of astronauts to detect potential inflammation. This way, astronauts can be treated before the situation becomes more serious. This technology is now being used in asthmatics to detect the amount of nitric oxide in their exhaled air caused by inflammation in their lungs.
4. Keeping your bones strong
Without gravity acting on their bodies, astronauts experience massive loss in bone density that is similar to the bone loss seen in elderly people with osteoporosis. Attempts are made to reduce this bone loss through daily exercise. Astronauts have also shown that taking a small amount of bisphosphonate, weekly, further reduces bone loss. Pharmaceutical discoveries like this are already benefiting the Earth’s ageing population.
5. Measuring your body’s temperature
Infrared technologies were developed many decades ago in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to measure the temperature of planets and stars. In 1991, this technology was turned into in-ear thermometers. In-ear thermometers provide temperature readings in just a few seconds and have been shown to provide accurate temperature readings, making them ideal for use in hospitals, doctors surgeries and even at home.
6. Measuring pressure inside the skull