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Medical and surgical applications of space biosensor technologyResearchers in space life sciences are rapidly approaching a technology impasse. Many of the critical questions on the impact of spaceflight on living systems simply cannot be answered with the limited available technologies. Research subjects, particularly small animal models like the rat, must be allowed to function relatively untended and unrestrained for long periods to fully reflect the impact of microgravity and spaceflight on their behavior and physiology. These requirements preclude the use of present hard-wired instrumentation techniques and limited data acquisition systems. Implantable sensors and miniaturized biotelemetry are the only means of capturing the fundamental and critical data. This same biosensor and biotelemetry technology has direct application to Earth-based medicine and surgery. Continuous, on-line data acquisition and improved measurement capabilities combined with the ease and flexibility offered by automated, wireless, and portable instruments and data systems, should provide a boon to the health care industry. Playing a key role in this technology revolution is the Sensors 2000! (S2K!) Program at NASA Ames Research Center. S2K!, in collaboration with space life sciences researchers and managers, provides an integrated capability for sensor technology development and applications, including advanced biosensor technology development, spaceflight hardware development, and technology transfer and commercialization. S2K! is presently collaborating on several spaceflight projects with dual-use medical applications. One prime example is a collaboration with the Fetal Treatment Center (FTC) at the University of California at San Francisco. The goal is to develop and apply implantable chemical sensor and biotelemetry technology to continuously monitor fetal patients during extra-uterine surgery, replacement into the womb, through birth and beyond. Once validated for ground use, the method will be transitioned to spaceflight applications to remotely monitor key biochemical parameters in flight animals. Successful application of NASA implantable biosensor and biotelemetry technologies should accelerate the advancement of this and other modern medical procedures while furthering the exploration of life in space.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Hines, J. W. (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field CA United States)
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
February 1, 1996
Publication Information
Publication: Acta astronautica
Volume: 38
Issue: 4-8
ISSN: 0094-5765
Subject Category
Aerospace Medicine
Distribution Limits
NASA Discipline General Space Life Sciences