Researchers from the Keck School of Medicine of USC will lead a study, to be conducted on board the upcoming Polaris Dawn mission, to test the potential of X-ray diagnostics on long space flights.
Spaceflights typically last a few days to a few months, so onboard medical treatment is mostly limited to first aid. Longer missions are on the docket, however, such as a 21-month roundtrip to and from Mars. As a result, in-flight space medicine is becoming critical for maintaining astronauts’ health.
This includes a need to upgrade diagnostic capabilities from ultrasound — the current standard — to X-rays, which will provide more accurate pictures of injuries and causes of illness. The latter has previously been avoided due to size and electricity requirements, so exploring ways to use the ambient radiation in space to collect X-ray images with minimal equipment.
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