Index - Tech-Science - A tiny gadget and artificial intelligence can save astronauts' vision

A new tool has been developed at the European Space Agency’s (ESA) European Astronaut Center (EAC) in Cologne to monitor and hopefully prevent vision loss due to space travel. Astronaut Matthias Maurer is the first to test the device live. ESA’s German astronauts were taught to use the new device before heading to the International Space Station, which Maurer will test live on the ISS during his mission.

During space travel, the microgravity environment destroys the eye, neurocular syndrome (space-associated neuro-ocular syndrome, SANS for short), as fluid accumulates in the skull, putting pressure on the inside of the eye. The first astronaut to be spotted was John Lynch Phillips, but medical examinations have since shown it in two-thirds of all people who spend more than 30 days in space.

It is believed that an increase in intracranial pressure during SANS changes the structure of the eye, which in the long run can lead to vision loss or even vision loss. The reason for this is Space world According to the article, as a result of the rearrangement of fluid within the body in microgravity, the blood vessels dilate under the influence of fluid that cannot leave the upper body, and the outflow of cerebral venous blood decreases. As a result, the optic nerve head (blind spot) becomes edematous and begins to press on the optic nerve. A similar process takes place on Earth as we sleep, but as soon as we sit up or stand up, gravity literally sucks out the fluid that has accumulated there. We have previously written that they would also try to use a vacuum cleaner-like sleeping bag to rid the upper half of the body of fluid accumulating in weightlessness.

Trifle against danger

One, a Nature-ben According to a published study, SANS is the second most dangerous threat to the crew of long-term lunar missions and missions to Mars, after space radiation causing cancer and cardiovascular problems. Various tools are already being used at the International Space Station to track the morphology of the eye, such as optical coherence tomography (OCT), ultrasound, ophthalmoscopy, tonometry, and fundus examination. In addition, standard missions on the ISS last for six months, but a six-month shift on a trip to Mars cannot be resolved.

A half-handed tool developed by ESA is the space agency Communication retinal diagnostics. A gadget made with a 3D printer that is currently being tested on the ISS can be attached to the back of an iPad, above the tablet’s camera. The tablet’s camera sensor can then be used to take photos of the eye – the optic nerve – and upload the captured images to a program called ESwear to monitor the health of ESA astronauts. The Everywear database is being used by the space agency to train a model for artificial intelligence that they hope will be able to automatically detect eye changes without the need for a special medical examination.

If the experiment on the ISS with Maurer is successful, ESA hopes that mobile technology will be used regularly in space and on Earth. In addition to helping human space exploration, development can also play a role in more sustainable health care on our planet, said Jürgen Drescher, a senior researcher at the German Center for Aeronautics and Space, about the project.

(Cover image: Eóin Tuohy (right, sits), one of the development researchers teaches Matthias Maurer (left, sits) how to use the tool in Cologne. ESA / NASA)

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