Breaking news: lost in space, tool kit! It may sound like a joke, but on November 1 this year, NASA astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara spent nearly seven hours doing ‘space jobs’ outside the International Space Station (ISS) before contriving to lose their valuable tool kit to the abyss of space.
Solar Array Fix and an Unplanned Space Odyssey
In a recent spacewalk, NASA astronauts accomplished some crucial tasks outside the International Space Station (ISS). They successfully ensured a solar power array accurately tracked the Sun for optimum energy generation. Another achievement was removing a handling bar fixture that was causing tracking issues, a necessary step for future solar installations.
Alas, their tool bag managed to slip away into space. The good news was that the tools inside weren’t needed for the remaining tasks. We do wonder if an alien lifeform will pick them up sometime in the distant future.
Biometric Innovation in Spacewalks
In a bid to make staying in space safer, the NASA astronaut duo wore state-of-the-art bio-monitor headbands, which were packed with sensors that monitor an astronaut’s health and physiological parameters, while minimally interfering with their crew activities.
The spacewalk saga adds a touch of cosmic misadventure to the routine, reminding us that even in the vastness of space, tools can have a mind of their own!
A California-based student recently bagged the grand prize of the 2022 3M Young Scientist Challenge, the country’s premiere middle-school science competition. 14-year-old Leanne Fan has won this prestigious national honor by developing a low-cost headphone that will detect and treat mid-ear infections using machine learning and blue light therapy.
The Winning Invention
The startling development in question is named Finsen Headphones. As per the scientist panel judging the competition, this affordable headphone device can potentially prevent up to 60% of hearing loss, especially in children. As a finalist in the competition, Leanne was assigned a mentor named Dr. Ross Behling. Dr. Behling is a research specialist in the material laboratory of 3M and worked one-on-one with Leanne to transform her concept and idea into a working prototype. Then in October, all nine finalists of the Young Scientist Challenge competed with the final presentations of their unique innovations at the St. Paul headquarters of 3M in Minnesota, where Leanne was announced as the winner.
The world experiences 700 million reported cases of mid-ear infections and nearly 21,000 casualties caused by it each year. Most of the victims are children within underprivileged populations across the world, deprived of a proper healthcare facility or medical access. So, diagnosis and treatment of such infections are often difficult in this situation. Leanne’s invention Finsen Headphones, aims to provide a low-cost and antibiotic-free option to detect any mid-ear infection by machine learning and then treat it with blue light therapy.
Leanne, the would-be high school freshman from San Diego, won a special destination trip and a cash prize of $25,000, along with the esteemed title of “America’s Top Young Scientist.” The bright-minded teenager is now planning to use a portion of her prize money to initiate the patent process for her Finsen Headphones. That may be the first step toward a great future!