UpFront

Spacebound Bacteria Inspire Earthbound Remedies

Astronaut Fred Haise was a long way from home when he became sick with an infection caused by an opportunistic pathogen known as Pseudomonas aeruginosa while aboard the Apollo 13 mission to the Moon in 1970. Now, more than four decades later, this same bacterium is central to an important discovery by scientists using human spaceflight research to unlock the mysteries of how disease-causing agents work and can be controlled.

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NASA Light Technology Reduces Chemotherapy and Radiation Side Effects in Cancer Patients

A NASA technology originally developed for plant growth experiments on space shuttle missions has successfully reduced the painful side effects resulting from chemotherapy and radiation treatment in bone marrow and stem cell transplant patients. In a two-year clinical trial, cancer patients undergoing bone marrow or stem cell transplants were given a far-red/near-infrared light emitting diode (LED) treatment called High Emissivity Aluminiferous Luminescent Substrate, or HEALS, to treat oral mucositis — a common and extremely painful side effect of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

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NASA's New Lander Prototype Passes Tests

NASA engineers successfully integrated and completed system testing on a new robotic lander at Teledyne Brown Engineering’s facility in Huntsville, AL, in support of the Robotic Lunar Lander Project at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. The lander prototype was placed on modified skateboards and a customized track system as a low-cost solution to control movement during final testing of the prototype’s sensors, onboard computer, and thrusters. The functional test focused on ensuring that all system components work seamlessly to sense, communicate, and command the lander’s movements.

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NASA Engineer Finds Answer to Green Energy in the Air

Mark Moore, an aerospace engineer focusing on advanced concepts in the Systems Analysis Branch at NASA’s Langley Research Center (Hampton, VA), is using a grant from the federal government to research airborne wind-capturing platforms. His concepts include long nanotubes that reach into the clouds, tethering a turbine vehicle flying at 2,000, 10,000, or 30,000 feet; and conducting the power that vehicle can harvest from the wind back to Earth.

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NASA’s Aviation Reporting System Improves Railroad Safety

The Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA is serving as a model to create a similar safety reporting system for the Federal Railroad Association (FRA). The ASRS collects, analyzes, and responds to voluntarily submitted aviation safety incident reports in order to lessen the likelihood of aviation accidents. This system helped create the FRA’s new Confidential Close Call Reporting System, which allows employees to voluntarily and anonymously report “close call” incidents that could have resulted in an accident or injury.

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NASA Technology Could Aid in Interpreting of Mammograms and Ultrasound

The new MED-SEG system, developed by Bartron Medical Imaging (New Haven, CT), relies on an innovative software program developed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD to help doctors analyze mammograms, ultrasounds, digital X-rays, and other medical imaging tests. The FDA recently cleared the system to be used by trained professionals to process images. These images can be used in radiologists’ reports and communications, as well as other uses, but the processed images should not be used for primary image diagnosis.

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NASA’s “Mindshift” Biofeedback Gaming Technology Mimics Reality

NASA Langley Research Center scientists Alan Pope and Chad Stephens, along with high school intern Nina Blanson, have invented technology to inject stress levels into video games’ controls so that the nervous or stressed shooter is aiming a moving gun at a moving target. The technology, called “Mindshift,” includes a sensor attached to the player’s earlobe, checking the pulse and wired into the control. Sensors also can be attached to the forehead, seeking the facial muscle strain that is a sign of stress, or attached to the player’s partner to inject a social variable into game play, requiring teamwork between the two players.

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