Bringing Space Technologies to Earth
Original Article by SpaceTech Analytics
Space activities require the most advanced and reliable applications of modern technology. State-of-the-art precision for space hardware and software is essential and is achieved by thousands of person-hours in research and many more in implementation and deployment. A benefit of developing these technologies for space is that they can often find uses here on Earth. In many cases, such technologies are associated with human health, because keeping astronauts healthy in an alien environment of free fall, radiation, and the non-standard atmosphere is an immense challenge that drives new technologies. The figure below shows the companies that are leading in this area, in Europe and America.
Top Companies Advancing Space Medicine
Biomonitoring For A Better Life
The first step in maintaining an astronaut's health in space is to monitor it so that if it is deteriorating in any way, countermeasures can be taken early. There are several tests astronauts need to conduct daily to be aware of their health status. Those tests measure brain activity level, heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, breathing volume, blood-oxygen level, and others. Ideally, rather than daily (as most people do on Earth when they measure them at all), those indexes could be evaluated in real-time to provide the earliest possible warning of any impending medical issues. Accordingly, from the beginning of the space age, national space agencies have always prioritized the development of equipment. Thanks to this, there are already wearables that can monitor many of these things, and now there is software that can analyze that data using artificial intelligence. Though such equipment and software were initially designed for astronauts, it can now be widely used by regular people on the planet, as it can be beneficial to know if you have any developing incipient health issues before your body tells you so. Biomarkers have also been studied in space and have given several insights into the longevity sphere.
Implementation of AI in Space Health - Non-Invasive Techniques
Repurposing Unrelated Technology Into Medical Uses
Some technologies used in modern medicine weren’t developed for that use initially. NASA made significant contributions to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) by developing software that enhanced images of the Moon. That technology was later used in medical practices. The Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) technology, an artificial heart pump that has saved many lives, was inspired by the blueprints of the fuel pump of the Space Shuttle's main engines. Other technologies such as space-vehicle insulation material are now used for artificial limbs or fiber-optics that made laser operations on blood vessels possible emerge throughout the medical industry. Tools for cataract surgery, light-emitting diodes for brain cancer surgery, transmitters for monitoring fetuses, and programmable pacemakers were all improved by utilizing those techniques in space.
Timeline of Private Biological Research
Fit As An Astronaut
Muscles tend to shrink in weightlessness because they are used to fighting gravity on Earth, so astronauts need to work out every day on space treadmills and other special devices designed to keep them fit. An American company, Alter-G, worked with NASA to create a better treadmill based on space that can be used in normal gravity. The technology is used for rehabilitation, physical therapy, and sports-performance applications.
Space Food May Come To Earth
It can be problematic to eat regular food in space. Many dishes can have crumbs, which float everywhere and get sucked by ventilation systems into sensitive systems aboard the vehicle. The initial solution was food in tubes like toothpaste which, while moderately nutritious for short missions, was far from desirable to the human palate. While far from a five-star restaurant on Earth, space-food technologies have made great strides since the 1960s. Some of the companies who have been feeding astronauts have been trying to bring those technologies back to markets on Earth. The Space Foods Company and Astrofood are working on healthy, tasty, and nutritious dishes using the knowledge from the original space food recipes. Aleph Farms is growing steaks from animal cells for the meals of future space visitors, space workers, and ultimately space settlers. Having developed insight from their space experience, they are now incorporating their ideas back on the home planet to feed more people with less environmental impact and animal cruelty.
Improved Radiation Protection
Where there is no atmosphere to protect us, radiation becomes a serious issue. On Earth, we are protected from both solar flares and cosmic background radiation by our atmosphere. We have some protection even in low-Earth orbit by the magnetism of the Van Allen belts. But beyond that protection, the radiation can be deadly quickly. Space vehicles use special shielding to protect astronauts, but that doesn’t provide total protection from being irradiated. Fortunately, there is a group of drugs called radioprotectors that can mitigate the consequences of radiation exposure. Several radioprotectors have been developed specifically for use in space, but they could also reduce the damage inflicted by radiation-related accidents or radiation therapies on Earth.
Outside the safe cocoon of Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field, subatomic particles zip around at close to the speed of light. Space radiation can penetrate habitats, spacecraft, equipment, spacesuits, and even astronauts themselves. The interaction of ionizing radiation with living organisms can lead to harmful health consequences, such as tissue damage, cancer, and cataracts, in space and on Earth. The underlying cause of many of these effects is damage to deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).
Drugs called Radioprotectors are capable of reducing damage caused by space radiation and increasing astronauts’ resistance to radiation exposure. Having a formidable potential, they are extremely important in the era of space exploration, development, and settlement.
Space Technology And Earth Technology Are Inextricably Intertwined
As we’ve seen, the extreme challenges of space activities have spurred a great deal of technology development and will continue to do so in the future. But technologies developed on Earth for other purposes have found uses in space as well. From medical benefits to navigation to communication, we could not live our current lifestyles without space. Our ability to move out and develop and inhabit the solar system will continue to improve with technology on Earth. As this process continues, SpaceTech Analytics intends to guide investors for opportunities to take advantage of this ongoing synergy for the benefit of space development and earthly development, for the use of humanity both on and off-planet.