Space-Ready MRI Machine is 1/10th the Price, Weight of Traditional MRI
September 22, 2012 10:25 PM
comment(s) - last by
Researchers hope to deploy the device to the International Space Station to study the effects of space travel on humans
While mankind has been sending men and women into space for the past five decades, the effects of spaceflight on the human body are still only partially understood. One key obstacle is that many forms of high-resolution medical scanning equipment is too bulky and heavy to transport into space for use in orbiting space stations.
I. Bringing an MRI up to the ISS?
A key example is the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines. On Earth they provide the
capability to image tissues
a fidelity not possible
with other types of scans. A typical MRI machine costs around $1M USD and weighs about 11 tons due to its bulky
liquid-helium cooled superconducting
magnets. Also a traditional MRI could endanger space state residents -- its gradient coils consume massive amounts of power in short bursts and the magnets can create stray magnetic fields that could disrupt life support and other mission-critical systems.
The chairman of the Canadian
University of Saskatchewan
's Biomedical engineering department hopes to change that, though. Chairman
heads a team that has developed a miniature version of the scanner that weighs less than a ton and costs as little as $200,000.
A full-size mockup of Professor Sarty's reimagined MRI
[Image Source: Gordon Sarty / University of Saskatchewan]
An initial deployment to the
International Space Station
(ISS) may involve a 1/20th of a ton device, only capable of scanning limbs, to study bone mass and vasculature. However, Professor Sarty would like to build a full size scanner for the station eventually. He comments in an
, "I would like to build a facility-class, whole-body-sized MRI. Such a project would require an agreement between the ISS space agencies."
II. Initial Findings Look Promising
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautic
s' Sept. 13
AIAA Space 2012
conference Professor Sarty and his team
Their instrument employs a couple of key advances. First, it utilizes a permanent Halbach magnet -- the primary source of the large weight reduction. Halbach magnets are a construct of permanent magnets arranged in an array such that they increase each other’s magnet fields within one region and nullify it within another. In a cylindrical configuration -- a configuration being explored for both motor applications and imaging equipment like Professor Sarty's micro-MRI -- in the ideal case there is an intense field within the cylinder and virtually no field outside of it.
A Halbach magnet [Image Source: PERDaix]
Thus the Halbach magnet cylinder also solves a couple of the other issues as it draws no power and produces minimal magnetization outside the cylinder. To further reduce power, the coil system is modified to only need the radiofrequency coil -- a design called the Transmit Array Spatial Encoding (TRASE).
While the result may be tailor-fit for space applications, Professor Sarty says its qualities like reduced weight and low power consumption could make it well suited for terrestrial applications, as well, such as battlefield deployments (the device could be loaded aboard a truck and run off of batteries).
The final target deployment is the ISS. [Image Source: NASA]
While conference attendees reportedly urged Professor Sarty to set his eyes on these earthbound applications first, he has his sights firmly set on space and is lobbying the
Canadian Space Agency
to deploy a prototype to the ISS. He comments, "Eventually someone will break a bone in space. We have no idea if that bone will heal."
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: terrestrial applications
9/23/2012 4:00:05 PM
While I agree with your premise, even I admit that when it comes to Space, you get people on the better end of the gene pool. Most people interested in space are pioneers, and are looking ahead to the future. If this guy tried to market this to a terrestrial application he would get nowhere, but by choosing space, he gets recognition for being the first at something, as well as no companies motivated to stop him, and governments that want it. Win, win, and more win.
You want to know why medical advancements to make things CHEAPER, or EFFECIENT don't happen very often? Because it doesn't earn the companies more money. Ever wonder why Razors aren't made to literally last forever, or that there isn't a quick and easy way to permanently kill hair folicles? Because a multi-billion dollar industry would evaporate over night. There is good money to be made in prolonging a problem with a half-assed, inefficient solution.
Off Topic: We can invest tons of money into regrowing hair or transplanting it, but god forbid we find a way to permanently get rid of it, that might actually make financial sense for consumers, but wreck many corporations' cash cow that they have been milking since the stone age.
"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
SpaceX to Send its Dragon for First "Official" ISS Supply Run Oct. 7
September 21, 2012, 1:26 PM
Scotch Tape Holds Together Novel 80 K "High Temperature" Superconductor
September 12, 2012, 5:32 PM
MRI Scan Captures Moment Of Birth
December 8, 2010, 10:45 AM
Xenon Gas Used to Boost MRI Sensitivity 10,000 Times
October 13, 2009, 10:42 AM
NASA Opportunity Rover Breaks Record for Most Miles Traveled on Another Planet
July 29, 2014, 1:38 PM
Commercial Drones to Get Privacy Guidelines Via Executive Order
July 25, 2014, 5:34 PM
Pentagon's Priciest Project, F-35, Misses International Debut
July 25, 2014, 10:18 AM
Temple University Researchers Hit the Delete Button on HIV, Remove it from Human Cells
July 22, 2014, 7:39 AM
Airbus Shows Off All-Electric E-Fan 2.0 Airplane, Plans Production in 2017
July 21, 2014, 9:29 AM
Buzz Aldrin Says First Astronauts to Set Foot on Mars Should Never Return Home
July 9, 2014, 9:46 AM
Most Popular Articles
Kindle Fire Phone Review Roundup -- A Solid "Meh"
July 23, 2014, 2:09 PM
Ford Details ’15 F-150’s 325hp, 2.7L EcoBoost V6; Demonstrates 732-lb Weight Loss
July 22, 2014, 6:55 PM
Windows 9 Will Merge Windows, Windows Phone, Windows RT in 2015
July 23, 2014, 3:33 PM
Comcast Memo: Harassing Customers During Retention Calls Actually IS Our Policy
July 22, 2014, 5:19 PM
Sony's Xperia Z3 Gets Detailed in Leaked Photos
July 25, 2014, 2:30 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Space Terrorism is a Looming Threat For the United States
Apr 23, 2014, 7:47 PM
Facebook Aims to Provide Internet to "Every Person in the World" with Drones, Satellites
Apr 1, 2014, 10:20 AM
Retail Mobile Sites Experience Outages in Light of Simplexity's Bankruptcy
Mar 14, 2014, 8:48 AM
Tesla vs. BMW: Who Has the Safer EV?
Feb 1, 2014, 2:56 PM
Justice Leaks Details of Next HTC One Two Flagship Phone
Dec 5, 2013, 4:04 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information