In the year 2000, NASA will launch its International Space Station for ten years in orbit. In order to investigate human adaptation to spaceflight environment and to space exploration, the HDI ultrasound technology will be used to perform sophisticated medical diagnostic procedures aboard the space station. The transmission of these data in digital format from the orbiting spacecraft to earth will have immediate relevance for telemedicine initiatives on earth. Moreover, beyond the protection of the astronauts' health, the knowledge gained on cardiac functions will be applied to patients on earth suffering from heart failure.
ATL Ultrasound, a company based near Seattle, has specialised itself as a developer of diagnostic medical ultrasound technology. In July 1997, the HDI 5000 system was introduced as the successor of the HDI 3000 version. This new system applies for the first time supercomputed processing, patented new bloodflow imaging technology and adaptive system intelligence to diagnostic ultrasound. NASA considers the HDI 5000 as a key component for research projects aboard the International Space Station when it will be launched in 2000.
The astronauts will transmit the images to earth by means of the HDI 5000 ultrasound system so that scientists can study the effects of zero gravity on bloodflow, the heart and other organs. Not only astronauts, but equally patients in hospitals will benefit from the new scientific discoveries with relation to the assessment of cardiac function in space, according to James D. Thomas, Lead Scientist for Ultrasound at NASA and Director of Cardiovascular Imaging at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation.
Yet another important matter constitutes the perfection of telemedicine techniques. In this regard, live transmissions of high fidelity echocardiograms have already taken place between the NASA Lewis Research Centre in Cleveland and the Ames Research Centre in California over the NASA Research and Education Network. The practical use here on earth of these high performance technologies are quite obvious.
During the ten year orbiting trip of the Space Station, NASA will take care of the permanent uploading to the ultrasound system of remote system diagnostics and software upgrades via satellite. For more news or detailed product information we refer to the ATL Ultrasound web site.