Four men who survived the devastating Nepal earthquake were rescued from under the debris thanks to an innovative NASA technology.
The new tool can be used to detect living humans and animals by sensing their heartbeat.
Rescuing the Nepal people was the first time the tool was used in a real-world situation.
The technology was developed by NASA scientists in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security.
The new rescue technology is called Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response or FINDER.
Two prototypes were sent to Nepal to help find survivors that had been trapped under rubble and debris following the devastating Nepal earthquake that happened on April 25.
Jim Lux, one of the scientists who developed the project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, said he felt like he was sending his grown kid to college when asked about the new FINDER technology.
The tool is no bigger than a carry-bag and is powered by a lithium battery which sends out low-powered microwaves.
These waves can detect the most subtle of movements, like the almost imperceptible pulsing of the skin revealing a heartbeat.
The new technology is so advanced that its waves can actually penetrate up to approximately 30 feet into mounds of debris and rubble.
Also the microwaves can reach up to 20 feet into solid concrete.
The tool was used to find survivors after Nepal was hit by the massive earthquake. Rescuers were able to detect the heartbeats of several men that had been trapped for days beneath ten feet of rubble in the village of Chautara, located north of Kathmandu.
The men were found by a team of international rescuers who used the FINDER tools. The rescuers were able to find two sets of men trapped under collapsed buildings, in two different places.
It’s not clear yet when the men were discovered or for how long they were under the debris.
One of the advantages of the new FINDER tool is that, compared to other more traditional rescue technology like microphones, the person doesn’t need to be conscious to be found by the rescue team. The person needs to have a pulse.
The searches for Nepal survivors are still continuing and Lux believes that more people will be rescued, although 12 days have passed since the quake struck.
The FINDER technology was originally designed to discover other planets, but later licensed by two companies for search and rescue operations.
Image Source: tnerd