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What Do Astronauts Do if They Get Sick?
08.05.04
 
What do astronauts do when they get sick? They help make you better! How does a sick astronaut help you? It's simple. In order to help keep astronauts healthy in space, NASA has made many things.

Some of those things that we made for space can also be used on Earth. Those tools now help keep people healthy on Earth. Some of those tools were not even made to keep people healthy. NASA has found new ways to use tools for space.
A person laying on the table of an MRI machine
Image above: The MRI takes pictures of organs like your liver, brain or heart. All you have to do is lie very still! Credit: NASA


So, what do we use to keep you healthy that started out as a NASA tool? Well, have you ever broken a bone? Do you know someone who has broken a bone? Doctors use X-rays to look at broken bones. These work well. But, there are other ways to look at bones. It all came from looking at the Moon.

What does looking at the Moon have to do with looking at bones? If you were going to the Moon, wouldn't you want good pictures? Yes, you would. And so did NASA. We used a computer to help make the pictures clearer. The same thing that NASA used for pictures of the Moon is used in hospitals.

This new way of looking at X-rays is called a CAT scan. Now doctors can have better pictures of your bones. But what if they want to look at your organs like your liver, brain or heart? The MRI machine is the answer. It makes pictures in another way. And, a NASA idea helped to make it!
A nurse taking a man's temperature
Image above: NASA made it much easier and faster for your temperature to be taken. Credit: NASA
Do you have a fever? Use a thermometer to find out. Thanks to NASA, you don't have to put it in your mouth. NASA can find the temperatures of objects in space. We can find the temperatures of planets and stars. And we don't have to leave Earth. In the same way, you can use a thermometer that is placed into the opening of your ear. And in two seconds, you know if you have a fever or not.

Some people have heart problems. Their hearts need help knowing when to beat. They may need a pacemaker. It sends little bits of electricity to your heart. It helps your heart beat. Doctors can tell the pacemaker how to work. They do this in the same way that NASA tells satellites how to work.

There are other kinds of heart problems. Sometimes the blood does not flow through peoples' bodies well. Doctors can use lasers to help. Lasers can unclog the blood vessels. They use lasers like the kind that NASA uses. We use lasers to study the ozone layer around Earth.

There are many other ways that NASA tools help you. Many of them help you stay healthy. Some tools made by NASA help doctors. So, if an astronaut gets sick, they will have plenty of ways to get help. Many doctors and scientists work at NASA. We at NASA work to learn about our planet and our universe. Many times we find ways to help the people on our planet at the same time.

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Adapted from KSNN's What do astronauts do if they get sick?