The curiosity in humans gives us the desire to learn, to explore, and to understand. These qualities have led us to many triumphant discoveries, not only in learning about the physics and inner workings of our planet, but also to push us to go beyond our atmosphere.
From the first human steps on the moon to putting a rover on Mars, scientists and astronauts have made a lot of progress. However, the truth is that space age exploration and science is only just starting. There are many questions left to be answered and many technologies to be developed. Luckily, space science is quickly advancing.
As a field, bioengineering encompasses such a great assortment of research and innovation. Bioengineering is helping to eradicate diseases, provide non-narcotic, anti-cancer medicine, and create anti-bacterial surface inspired by dragonflies. These inventions in bioengineering are great, and can tremendously help medically vulnerable populations across the globe, but astro-bioengineering is taking the field even further.
Sending people into space, as you might imagine, is no simple task. Space was clearly intended to kill humans, not to support them, and overcoming obstacles such as being able to breathe are really some of the more basic concerns. In space, people also have to deal with temperature extremes, radiation levels, and severe pressure.
The University of Arizona reports that bioengineering, particularly neuroprosthetics, “where implantable technology is used to prevent bouts of depression and epileptic seizures, suppress tremors caused by Parkinson’s disease, or restore hearing or vision.” Eventually, this technology can be used to create superhumans.
According to the report by the university, there are already FDA-approved retinal implants used on the blind to not only help them see, but to give them enhanced vision that goes beyond what the average human eye can see.
Nurses are essential to the enhancement of medical research, and that is no exception when it comes to space-based research. According to the Astronaut, medical technology currently being made for astronauts in space could eventually be used on Earth. This would include “lightweight and unobtrusive measurement and diagnostic tools as well as real-time tracking of even more data as collection techniques develop.”
Because astronauts need reliable medical tools that are easy to use, it helps advance medical technology. Though often this technology is made for astronauts, a lot of it has the potential to be used for people on Earth in the future.
One such development is an antibiotic gel by Tympanogen, Inc. This development would help long-term astronauts heal their wounds, but it’s not perfect. Improper application of the gel could result in conditions such as sepsis.
For decades, the idea of sending people to space permanently has been floating around. Of course, this requires extensive research and development in technology to become a reality. While we might not be quite ready to load up space ships with the future inhabitants of Mars, the research for the technology necessary to do that is already underway.
NASA is currently trying to work out feasible methods to farm in space with their Advanced Plant Habitat. This is a structure that controls oxygen, nutrient levels, and temperature to viable growing conditions, and is maintained by a computer system.
The advancement of all these technologies will help not only bring people one step further to life in space, but can also have life-saving applications on Earth. The future of space-based research is bright and as limitless as the universe it studies.