Scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center, the University of California, Davis, and Sandia National Laboratories have developed a small diagnostic instrument intended to be used by astronauts while on long space missions. It’s expected that long exposure to high energy particles in free space as well as zero gravity may lead to the development of diseases. Since astronauts on missions to Mars are expected to spend around six months on each of the one way journeys, monitoring the health of the crew is critically important.
The device tests saliva, breath, and blood for a set of biomarkers that point to the presence of disease and help assess the state of the patient. It does blood cell counts and can be expanded to work with other biomarkers not yet developed.
Importantly, it is light and portable, and works in a zero gravity environment. Sadly, it is still a work in progress and requires individually confirmed components to be integrated. Moreover, we’ll probably wait quite a few years before any humans take off for Mars.
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