Did Apollo astronauts use a computer mouse

Facts Friday: Medicine in Space

Did you know that findings from research in space are also important for medicine? Rehabilitation patients in particular benefit from therapy options that come from space research.

Weightlessness is a challenge for the muscles and skeleton of astronauts. In order to counteract muscle wasting and frailty, space travel is researching prevention, medication and treatment methods both on earth and in space. A number of experiences from the experiments have already made their way into the everyday life of the rehabilitation clinics. This is particularly evident to the patient in the therapy rooms. Many mobilization and muscle building devices have their origins in space exploration. Prostheses are also the result of the further development of artificial muscle systems. They are used in space robots from NASA and ESA.

Medicine particularly benefits from the research results of the space organizations. The astronaut Alexander Gerst carried out over 300 medical experiments during his last stay on the International Space Station. Many of them research new drugs and the development of diseases. The experiments in space help to better understand diseases such as osteoporosis, stroke, cancer and Parkinson's. In this way, the growth of cancer cells can be reproduced and observed better in weightlessness than on earth. Due to the lack of gravity, cancer cells can grow in space in "3D", similar to the human body. Anyone waiting for a donor heart will be connected to the heart-lung machine, again a development from medical research in space. Software for analyzing neighboring galaxies has been further developed and can now detect black skin cancer.

One of the main tasks of space travel is of course the exploration of space. Even if it seems strange at first, space exploration can provide a lot of knowledge about the earth itself. By observing the earth, the state of the oceans can be evaluated and changes in the atmosphere can be registered. In addition, astronauts can use experiments such as B. Examine physical laws and thus gain further knowledge about the formation of the earth.

Many developments have already made their way into people's everyday lives as "by-products" of space travel:

  • smoke detector
  • Medical thermometer for measuring the temperature on the ear
  • First aid blankets for thermal insulation
  • Image sensors in digital cameras
  • GPS positioning in navigation systems and smartphones
  • computer mouse
  • Foam
  • Scratch-resistant glasses
  • Growing plants without soil
  • Cordless screwdriver
  • Ceramic hob

Not to be forgotten are satellites, without which global television broadcasts in real time would not be possible. Our modern navigation devices would also not work without the transmitting stations in space or the weather forecast would not be possible in today's presession.

The costs for space travel in 2017 of 1.47 billion euros (Germany) are offset by considerable innovations in the field of technology. The research results from space travel are also the basis for new drugs and treatment methods in medicine. The offsetting of the benefits is of course much more difficult than recording the annual expenses for space travel.


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