Babs Soller: We can put the sensor on the surface of the skin and near-infrared light will penetrate through the skin and through the fat and into the muscle.
Dr. Babs Soller has worked for a decade on a wearable, non-invasive sensor that uses light to measure the metabolic rates of astronauts.
Babs Soller: What our sensor does is in real time it measures the metabolic rate, or level of oxygen consumption. It will report that to the astronaut, and there’ll be a smart or intelligent system that will help them plan their activities so that they can make sure that they don’t run out of oxygen.
Soller works with the National Space Biomedical Research Institute. She said data from this sensor could be used for hospital patients on Earth to avoid life-threatening situations.
Babs Soller: The sensors will also provide feedback to the caregiver to make sure that the appropriate treatment is being carried out.
Dr. Soller’s recent work lets the sensor give accurate readings not impacted by skin color or body fat, great for international, multi-ethnic and mixed-gender crews in space.
Babs Soller: Some of the light that penetrates into the muscle is absorbed by the small blood vessels or capillaries, and it’s the information in the blood that we want to analyze.
Stoller actually gets that information from the light that’s reflected back out of the skin. She says the data could be helpful to astronauts on space walks.
Special thanks today to the National Space Biomedical Research Institute – innovations for health in space and on Earth.
Our thanks to:
UMass Medical School
Beth Lebwohl researches, writes and helps produce science content in audio and video formats for EarthSky. She is one of the authors on EarthSky.org, a script-writer for our podcasts, and helps host our English science podcasts in 90-second, 8-minute and 22-minute formats. Beth came to EarthSky in 2006 from the American Museum of Natural History's Department of Astrophysics, where she was surrounded by some of the greatest telescope-building, equation-wielding, code-writing physicists of our time. And they made her think . . . this science thing . . . it's pretty cool.