Nov 17, 2018 | Updated: 03:14 AM EDT

Image Testing Checks Astronauts' Lungs

Apr 25, 2017 07:18 AM EDT

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At the International Space Station, devices are being measured to analyze the breath of astronauts in order to assess the health of their lungs. ESA astronaut Tim Peake took part in the Airway Monitoring experiment during his Principia mission in 2016. An experiment was developed by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. Earlier, experts studied airway inflammation on the Station from 2005 to 2008.

Scientists analyzed the amount of nitric oxide present in exhaled air. It was a signaling molecule that was created in the lungs and could regulate blood vessels. While inflammation rose from too much nitric oxide, the reasons for this could be "environmental, like dust or pollutants, or biological, such as asthma - at least on Earth. It is not clear what happens in space, according to Phys.org.

Usually, our bodies tend to exhale waste-product molecules such as carbon dioxide as well as a significant 'signaling' molecule called nitric oxide. The amount of nitric oxide given out by the astronauts in the airlock was explored by the Airway Monitoring investigation, according to NASA.

Experts used ultra-sensitive gas analyzers to check out the contents of the exhaled air. It helped to bring out the influence of measurements on health and also keep a balance on the well-being of the crew, especially on the future of spaceflight missions to the Moon and Mars. To these missions, the crew has to be extra cautious in avoiding pitfalls.

Astronauts were assessed before their flights, which were compared to measurements taken afterward in space. The effects of weightlessness on airway health were examined. Assessing methods to "track, diagnose and treat lung inflammations" became important.

Scientists have conducted tests on the ESA astronaut Samantha Cristofretti's 2015 mission. Assessments were collected by six astronauts. Another four will undertake experiments next year.

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