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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 at 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 Gordon Sarty 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.

Micro MRI
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 NBC News interview, "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

At the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' Sept. 13 AIAA Space 2012 conference Professor Sarty and his team presented their findings.

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.

Halbach magnet
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).

ISS wide
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."

Source: NBC News



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RE: terrestrial applications
By Keeir on 9/26/2012 3:58:02 PM , Rating: 2
quote>How do you do that for healthcare? Everyone is unique, and similar symptoms from different ailments can have vastly different diagnosis and treatment costs. Any free market attempt to amortize these variances will result in borderline immoral practices (preexisting conditions, age discrimination, maybe genetic screening in the future, etc).

Errr...

Your talking about Healthcare -INSURANCE- costs. I am talking about Healthcare costs.

How much does a typical blood test cost?
How much does 1 hour of physician time?
How much does a root canal cost?
How much does eye surgery cost?
How much does getting A medicine over B medicine cost?

The cost of Healthcare is -predictable-.

quote:
The inability of the customer to determine what he needs to buy along with the life and death seriousness of a wrong decision in trying to save costs gives the retailer way, way too much leverage in a free market.


Hahah comon. Car Maintainence is a matter of life and death. 5,000-10,000 people die or are maimed for life each year due to poor car maintainence. Should we have socialized car maintainence? You arguements are silly.

People serious life choices every day. They gather their best information sources and wiegh thier percieved value versus thier percieved cost.

"Socializing" healthcare is only going to make the situation worse here in the US. Unless we rip everything up from the ground up and provide free education, free buildings, and ration healthcare, the problems you percieve with the "free market" solution will remain. Heck, the main problem you keep saying

quote:
One of the links above show how easy it is for a doctor to increase demand for a service by an order of magnitude without any need


happened precisely because the people getting the screening did not have the information or even care to have the information. The majority of the "consumers" didn't have a cost outside thier time.

If instead of a healthcare free pass, healthcare insurance only covered expenses over 10,000 in a given year, that problem wouldn't have happened. 9/10 people would have said "Doctor, do I really need this 1,000 dollar scan?" and 6/10 would get a second opinion.

Instead, in a "socialized" system, the Doctor may or may not be allowed to buy the machine, and may or may not be allowed to give a scan to a patient, regardless of the patient desire.

quote:
yet neither the doctor nor the patient can be blamed.


The Doctor is 100% to blame. It's an "easy" crime to commit, because the only entity "hurt" is that evil insurance company. But its still a deception. The Doctor clearly is trying to make more money for his practice, and doing so by passing fradulent costs on the insurance company. Worse, since the Doctor is actually performing the scans, thier is both -waste- and corruption.


"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007














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