Bremen, April 10, 2018. OHB System AG, a subsidiary of the Bremen-based space and technology group OHB SE, has qualified the MyotonPRO Digital Palpation Device, a medical system for measuring muscle tone and elasticity, for use on board the ISS on behalf of ESA. The device will be used for the first time on the upcoming Alexander Gerst mission in June. According to the current schedule, Gerst will be headed for the ISS on board a Soyuz launcher lifting off on June 6, 2018. Using the device, the German ESA astronaut will be able to measure the biomechanical properties of idle human muscle. Because they work in weightless conditions, astronauts must train their muscles every day that they are in space in order to prevent muscle atrophy. The scientific experiment will be applied to twelve different astronauts over the next few years to determine how effective this training is. The device delivers a short pulse of pressure to the skin and measures the reaction of the tissue in order to gain information on the muscle tone (residual stress) and elasticity. The results of the experiment are to be used in human space flight as well as for rehabilitation after bone fractures.
Testing: Which battery is suitable for space?
During the qualification phase, the MyotonPRO Digital Palpation Device underwent extensive testing at OHB System AG. In addition to testing of pressure and vibration resistance, the implementation of a battery suitable for use in space was a challenge, for which the German Aerospace Center (DLR) awarded a separate contract.
The MyotonPRO Digital Palpation Device was sent to the ISS on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 at the beginning of April. Also on board was the ASIM (Atmospheric Space Interactions Monitoring) station for observing electrical discharges in the stratosphere and the mesosphere. OHB subsidiary OHB Italia is involved in the ESA ASIM experiment, playing a key role in such areas as system design and integration, software development and data transfer. ASIM will be docked to the exterior of the European Columbus module where it will be observing the interplay of gamma radiation, lightning and discharges in the upper atmosphere for at least two years. In the long term, it is to deliver new knowledge on the influence of these processes on the earth’s atmosphere and climate.