NEEMO 14 Topside Report No. 5, May 14, 2010
NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations

Mission Day 5 - "The Science of ETag"


It's MD5 here in NEEMO land. The mission is continuing to run along, firing on all cylinders. There's a tremendous amount of activity happening inside the undersea habitat, starting early in the morning and lasting right into the evening. The crew has done an excellent job of keeping up with all of the tasks, both inside the habitat and in extravehicular activities (EVAs). Today's tasks include two more sets of exciting EVAs on the lander and rover, in which the aquanauts will be gathering more data for our center of gravity (CG) team.

Another activity currently taking place is helping to pioneer the next generation of medical monitoring. The ETag team is evaluating humans in a variety of extreme environments, starting with the aquanauts on the NEEMO 14 mission. During this mission, one of the objectives is to successfully capture, from the topside Mission Control Center (MCC), real-time telemedicine data and monitoring of the aquanauts in the Aquarius habitat.

The ETag is a small, credit-card-sized, radar-based medical device that is worn on the chest. The core of the ETag technology is the TAP (Transducer Antenna Probe) which uses RFII (Radio Frequency Impedance Interrogation) to passively gather medical data from the aquanauts. It was originally developed for combat casualty care and is now being used to monitor the aquanauts onboard Aquarius.

Data collected from the aquanauts includes heart rate, respiration and position. The ETag also collects the environmental temperature surrounding each aquanaut. The key measurement from the ETag is cardiac performance: the ETag monitors the amount of blood pumped by the heart in a single beat.

The ETag does not require any gel or electrodes and can be worn over the heart through clothing. The NEEMO 14 mission has proven to be the first successful ETag technology demonstration and a giant step forward in the potential of telemedicine.

This technology could provide NASA with next-generation ability to remotely monitor astronauts during EVAs, and to help further develop technology that has important implications for the practice of medicine here on earth.