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Insulin Pump

What do NASA and diabetes have in common?

For starters, the agency has made treating the condition easier, thanks to researchers working on the Mars Viking spacecraft. At the time, the chance of traveling farther into space also presented challenges in monitoring astronauts' health, prompting the team to find new ways to oversee astronauts' vital signs.

Similar monitoring systems were adopted to help treat individuals with insulin-dependent diabetes, also known as Type 1 diabetes. As a result of the Goddard Space Flight Center's work, medical experts created implanted devices that can monitor a person's blood sugar levels and send signals to release insulin into his or her body when needed [source: NASA]. The technology, known today as an insulin pump, has helped monitor the health of people living with diabetes since the late '80s.

The invention differed from previous insulin dispensers in that the device offered people a pre-programmed rate that was customizable based on the person's needs. It also removed the need for daily insulin injections [source: NASA Spinoff].

It turns out the same technology that allows NASA to sever shuttles from rockets also can free trapped victims. Head onward to find out how.

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