NASA Technology Saves 4 Lives in Nepal Earthquake Aftermath

posted: 05/07/15
by: Discovery.com Staff

Relief organizations and governments have already pledged millions of dollars to earthquake relief efforts. Discovery is donating $250,000 to the relief efforts and has launched an employee matching campaign. Join the Discovery family in supporting GlobalGiving's Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund.

NASA FINDER prototype

Four men were rescued from the wreckage of collapsed buildings in Nepal thanks to new technology developed by NASA. The suitcase-sized FINDER device was able to pinpoint the survivors' locations through 10 feet of mud, wood and debris.

Working in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory developed FINDER to aid in search-and-rescue operations. The device emits a low-powered microwave signal that can penetrate concrete rubble and other debris; operators observe the signal's reflections and search for slight variations that would be caused by a victim's heartbeat or breath.

"FINDER is a tool that complements the other search methods, like canines, listening devices and cameras, used by first responders," said James Lux, task manager for the FINDER project. "It provides another item in the toolbox for search and rescue."

The 20-pound device is easily transportable and could have far-reaching applications in addition to building collapses; NASA predicts that it could also be used to locate victims who are lost in a forest, trapped in a burning building or buried by an avalanche. The device can also track the vital signs of somebody who cannot be physically touched, like a patient with a highly infections disease.

"NASA technology plays many roles: driving exploration, protecting the lives of our astronauts and improving -- even saving -- the lives of people on Earth," said David Miller, NASA's chief technologist. "FINDER exemplifies how technology designed for space exploration has profound impacts to life on Earth."

Click here for more information from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory


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