Handheld scanner tests astronauts' muscle health

4 October 2018

STFC is helping to fund a project which is giving astronauts the chance to use a new handheld scanner to monitor their muscle wastage during space missions, and lessons learnt from this could offer new healthcare solutions back on Earth.

The project has reached a major milestone as scientists have carried out the first study of astronauts’ muscle tone while they are on board the International Space Station (ISS).

Muscle wastage is a common side effect of space travel, but until now astronauts have not been able to monitor their muscle condition while on a mission – and have had to wait until they land back on Earth.

A team from the University of Southampton are now analysing the ultrasound images taken from a new handheld device that is being used by the astronauts to measure muscle tone, even in a weightless environment.

Science Minister Sam Gyimah said: "This pioneering space project will assist us in tackling muscle-wasting conditions on Earth and reduce the effects of ageing, helping older citizens lead independent, fulfilling lives.

"It's a great example of how we are backing science and the space sector through our modern Industrial Strategy and how, through our Ageing Society Grand Challenge, we are harnessing the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society."

Find out more about the project on the University of Southampton website.

Last updated: 05 October 2018


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