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Understanding and Counteracting Fatigue in Flight Crews

The materials included in the collection of documents describe the research of the NASA Ames Fatigue Countermeasures Group (FCG), which examines the extent to which fatigue, sleep loss, and circadian disruption affect flight-crew performance. The group was formed in 1980 — in response to a Congressional request to examine a possible safety problem of uncertain magnitude due to transmeridian flying and a potential problem due to fatigue in association with various factors found in air-transport operations — and was originally called the Fatigue/Jet Lag Program. The goals of the FCG are: (1) the development and evaluation of strategies for mitigating the effects of sleepiness and circadian disruption on pilot performance levels; (2) the identification and evaluation of objective approaches for the prediction of alertness changes in flight crews; and (3) the transfer and application of research results to the operational field via classes, workshops, and safety briefings.

Posted in: Medical, Briefs

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Mobile Collection and Automated Interpretation of EEG Data

Diagnoses could be performed while subjects engaged in ordinary activities. A system that would comprise mobile and stationary electronic hardware and software subsystems has been proposed for collection and automated interpretation of electroencephalo- graphic (EEG) data from subjects in everyday activities in a variety of environments. By enabling collection of EEG data from mobile subjects engaged in ordinary activities (in contradistinction to collection from immobilized subjects in clinical settings), the system would expand the range of options and capabilities for performing diagnoses.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Medical, Briefs, TSP

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Simplified Microarray Technique for Identifying mRNA in Rare Samples

This method can be implemented by use of portable equipment. Two simplified methods of identifying messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), and compact, low-power apparatuses to implement the methods, are at the proof-of-concept stage of development. These methods are related to traditional methods based on hybridization of nucleic acid, but whereas the traditional methods must be practiced in laboratory settings, these methods could be practiced in field settings.

Posted in: Medical, Briefs, TSP

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Surface Bacterial-Spore Assay Using Tb3+/DPA Luminescence

A total spore count could be obtained in minutes. Equipment and a method for rapidly assaying solid surfaces for contamination by bacterial spores are undergoing development. The method would yield a total (nonviable plus viable) spore count of a surface within minutes and a viable-spore count in about one hour. In this method, spores would be collected from a surface by use of a transparent polymeric tape coated on one side with a polymeric adhesive that would be permeated with one or more reagent(s) for detection of spores by use of visible luminescence. The sticky side of the tape would be pressed against a surface to be assayed, then the tape with captured spores would be placed in a reader that illuminates the sample with ultraviolet light and counts the green luminescence spots under a microscope to quantify the number of bacterial spores per unit area. The visible luminescence spots seen through the microscope would be counted to determine the concentration of spores on the surface.

Posted in: Bio-Medical, Medical, Briefs, TSP

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Elastic-Tether Suits for Artificial Gravity and Exercise

Body suits harnessed to systems of elastic tethers have been proposed as means of approximating the effects of normal Earth gravitation on crewmembers of spacecraft in flight to help preserve the crewmembers’ physical fitness. The suits could also be used on Earth to increase effective gravitational loads for purposes of athletic training. The suit according to the proposal would include numerous small tetherattachment fixtures distributed over its outer surface so as to distribute the artificial gravitational force as nearly evenly as possible over the wearer’s body. Elastic tethers would be connected between these fixtures and a single attachment fixture on a main elastic tether that would be anchored to a fixture on or under a floor. This fixture might include multiple pulleys to make the effective length of the main tether great enough that normal motions of the wearer cause no more than acceptably small variations in the total artificial gravitational force. Among the problems in designing the suit would be equalizing the load in the shoulder area and keeping tethers out of the way below the knees to prevent tripping. The solution would likely include running tethers through rings on the sides. Body suits with a weight or water ballast system are also proposed for very slight spinning space-station scenarios, in which cases the proposed body suits will easily be able to provide the equivalency of a 1-G or even greater load.

Posted in: Medical, Briefs

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Ex Vivo Growth of Bioengineered Ligaments and Other Tissues

Lifelike mechanical loads cause cell cultures to grow into lifelike structures.A method of growing bioengineered tissues for use in surgical replacement of damaged anterior cruciate ligaments has been invented. An anterior cruciate ligament is one of two ligaments (the other being the posterior cruciate ligament) that cross in the middle of a knee joint and act to prevent the bones in the knee from sliding forward and backward relative to each other. Anterior cruciate ligaments are frequently torn in sports injuries and traffic accidents, resulting in pain and severe limitations on mobility. By making it possible to grow replacement anterior cruciate ligaments that structurally and functionally resemble natural ones more closely than do totally synthetic replacements, the method could create new opportunities for full or nearly full restoration of functionality in injured knees. The method is also adaptable to the growth of bioengineered replacements for other ligaments (e.g., other knee ligaments as well as those in the hands, wrists, and elbows) and to the production of tissues other than ligaments, including cartilage, bones, muscles, and blood vessels.

Posted in: Medical, Briefs

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Thermal Spore Exposure Vessels

Thermal masses are minimized to enable rapid heating and cooling. Thermal spore exposure vessels (TSEVs) are laboratory containers designed for use in measuring rates of death or survival of microbial spores at elevated temperatures. A major consideration in the design of a TSEV is minimizing thermal mass in order to minimize heating and cooling times. This is necessary in order to minimize the number of microbes killed before and after exposure at the test temperature, so that the results of the test accurately reflect the effect of the test temperature.

Posted in: Medical, Briefs, TSP

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