Keep Astronauts Healthy with Nanosensors and Nanorobots - dummies

Keep Astronauts Healthy with Nanosensors and Nanorobots

By Earl Boysen, Nancy C. Muir, Desiree Dudley, Christine Peterson

Astronauts have enough to do in space without worrying about getting sick. So, some nanotech researchers are doing it for them. They are developing nanosize tools that can detect, diagnose, and treat disease in space.

  • Bionanorobots: Nanotechnology researchers at Northeastern and Rutgers Universities have come up with a way to protect astronauts with several layers of bio-nanorobots. In these nano-enabled spacesuits, an outer layer would contain bio-nanorobots. These robots would be able to deal with medical emergencies by administering drugs if the suit wearer were injured or became sick. They may be able to repair the suit at the same time.

    The term bionanorobot refers to the fact that biological molecules are actually a part of the nanorobot mechanism. All people have proteins in their bodies that have a built-in ability to travel. By using carbon nanotubes to link these proteins to other molecules that make up the nanorobot, the robot has the capability to hitchhike, wandering around a spacesuit to find problems and heal them.

  • Nanosensors: Companies are working alongside NASA to develop nanosensors that can analyze the state of your entire body from a single drop of your blood.

    The plan is to be able to assess immune function, heart health, bone density, the condition of the liver, vitamin levels, and the status of lipids, such as fats, and triglycerides from this one drop of blood.

    Eventually an entire hospital lab’s capabilities could be found in a portable medical field kit to help assess patients using this testing method virtually anywhere. For astronauts, tests that can now be performed only using large machines in a lab will one day be available in the confined area of a spacecraft.