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Challenge

Establish reliable, non-intrusive multiparametric sensing capabilities using scientifically validated or FDA approved sensors which detect evidence-based key indicators of health and human performance of astronauts on long duration deep space missions. This particular solicitation will focus on leveraging existing contact and noncontact sensors which capture quantitative data which allows discernment between and healthy and non-healthy physical states. The proposals will be directed at modification, validation, integration or interpretation of existing human health sensors to optimize their utility on deep space missions. These sensor capabilities will ultimately be a part of the Smart HealthSense Matrix.

 
TRISH is soliciting proposals to contribute to the establishment of an integrated and intelligent sensing matrix to monitor, maintain and optimize the health and function of astronauts on deep space missions. This Smart HealthSense Matrix (SHSM) will be comprised of multiple components including:

  1. a suite of contact and non-contact sensors;
  2. a sophisticated software platform for integration, analytics and AI, and
  3. audience-specific user interfaces (UIs). 

A complete understanding of a person’s state of physical and psychologic well-being, or the disturbance of such, requires both qualitative and quantitative data. This particular solicitation will focus on the capture and utilization of quantitative data to allow discernment between and healthy and non-healthy physical states.

Background

The planned future deep space missions will require maintaining optimal health and human performance while existing in autonomous and artificial (or non-terrestrial) environments for periods of up to four to five years. In any environment, maintaining health and function requires continually making appropriate choices as to nutrition, exercise, sleep, and avoidance of injury or toxicity. Making such choices in an informed and precise manner requires individual-level sensing of key parameters, translation of sensor data to actionable insights, and the presentation of these insights in user-valued formats which drive healthful behaviors. A health sensing matrix will allow for “informed health” (right information at the right time yielding the right choice) enhancing an astronaut’s ability to ascertain and respond to variances from their healthy baselines or ranges and circadian rhythms.  This individualized surveillance can also allow early detection of illness or decline in function allowing for prompt intervention. These technologies will provide a path to enable deep space missions where astronauts have autonomous, reliable and individualized health and medical capabilities. 

This solicitation focuses specifically on sensor technologies though it is important to address how the sensor technology will fit into the sensor suite and ultimately the Smart HealthSense Matrix (SHSM).

The sensor selection will be needs-driven. Of particular interest are sensors and combinations of sensors that give insight into physical perturbations (from baseline) that indicate the following anticipated conditions will be prioritized: dehydration, motion sickness, loss of appetite, fatigue/recovery, excessive weight loss, muscle loss/weakness, heat stress, hypothermia, overuse symptoms, pain, stress, anxiety and sleep disturbance. 

Comprehensive health monitoring requires the analysis of personal health parameters within the context of influential environmental parameters. Mechanisms to monitor key environmental factors in addition to the multi-parametric sensing of the individual astronauts will be essential for prolonged deep space missions. This particular solicitation focuses on sensing of human parameters rather than the environmental sensors though they will both be important in the final comprehensive health sensing matrix. Discussion of relationship to environmental sensors should be included if appropriate to the use case. 

Sensor technologies considered for inclusion on these missions must function in the unique environments of the space capsule, the extravehicular space walks and on the surface of Mars. Some of the challenges to consider include microgravity in the capsule and 3/8 earth gravity on Mars, as well as the limited allowances of volume, mass, and power consumption. In considering appropriate sensing modalities miniaturization of hardware and efficient management of data will be key considerations. Sensor systems should also have low power needs, use renewable power or be self-powered where possible.  Another constraint is time as the astronauts have a multitude of tasks to accomplish. Therefore, passive sensing capabilities, with minimal demand for manual data entry will be prioritized.

This solicitation is open to technologies that are not yet ready to function in the Space Environment but that have potential to be adapted for these settings. 

The Smart HealthSense Matrix (SHSM), designed to monitor and optimize health and function of astronauts on deep space missions, will be comprised of multiple components including:

  1. data capture - a multiparametric suite of contact and non-contact human sensors, in addition to environmental sensors;
  2. a sophisticated software platform for integration, analytics and AI, and
  3. audience-specific user interfaces (UIs).

The ultimate closed loop capability of SHSM will detect, alert and advise individual astronauts (and crew chiefs) when individuals are “out of desired range” or demonstrating trends which may indicate or predict decline in physical state and function.

Key Concepts

  • To provide actionable information that impacts health and function requires a sensing strategy that is evidence-based as to which parameters predict improving, maintained, or declining health or function. Evidence of the relationship between sensed parameters and the impact on health or function will be expected in the proposals.
  • In addition, the methods for detection of these parameters need to be validated and show appropriate specificity and sensitivity.
  • The ideal passive health sensing matrix will provide audience-specific feedback. Generating actionable insights (closed loop processes) from the sensing matrix is the ultimate goal. This will necessitate mechanisms for data collection, storage, integration, computational capabilities (Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning), algorithms, a learning system and individualized feedback. Though it is not expected that all of these aspects will already be built for the proposed sensor projects, it is important that there be discussion of plans for this in the proposal.
  • A comprehensive health sensing matrix will require multi-parametric and multimodality sensing capabilities with proven (validated) reliability, accuracy and precision in detecting relevant human health parameters including:
    • Physiologic measures (Heart rate, Heart rate variability, Respiratory Rate, O2saturation, blood pressure, Skin temperature, Core body temperature),
    • Noninvasive bodily fluid tests such as sweat/tears/urine (for volume, rate, and components such as ions, cortisol, glucose)
    • Observed patterns of physical behaviors including facial expressions, eye movement, limb movement patterns, posture, work flow, task metrics
  • Categories of sensors considered for this proposal will be:
    • Direct contact sensors (wearables, “adherables”, “implantables”, garment-based)
    • Non-contact sensors (visual/optical/imaging, audible, position/movement, and workflow or task-based metrics)
    • Note: While environmental sensors (such as ambient temperature, air quality and content, noise) are not the focus of this current solicitation they may be included in a particular project if a component of the health sensor solution proposed.
  • Dehydration, motion sickness, loss of appetite, fatigue/recovery, excessive weight loss, muscle loss/weakness, heat stress, hypothermia, pain, stress, anxiety and sleep disturbance. These conditions are complex and are determined by assessing combinations of physiologic and/or biometric vital signs in combination with vidence-based algorithms
  • Constraints in the spacecraft require that mass, power and volume of sensors  be as minimal as possible. In addition they need to function in microgravity environment. Sensors which have been designed for use on earth may need to be modified to become “mission ready”
  • Frequency and volume of data collection from the sensors should be evidence-based and needs driven. Sensor sampling time intervals will vary from ‘spot checks’ to ‘regular interval’ to ‘continuous’ depending on the specific parameters and conditions being monitored
  • Consumer usage of health technology shows a significant drop off by 6 months. Sustained engagement has been improved by leveraging human-centered-design or stakeholder input in product development. For this solicitation, inclusion of user-focused research will be expected. A plan to assess sustained engagement should also be included.

Examples of projects that COULD be considered:

This particular solicitation will focus on leveraging existing contact and noncontact sensors which capture quantitative data which allows discernment between and healthy and non-healthy physical states. Of particular interest are sensors and combinations of sensors that give insight into physical perturbations (from baseline) that indicate the following anticipated conditions will be prioritized: dehydration, motion sickness, loss of appetite, fatigue/recovery, excessive weight loss, muscle loss/weakness, heat stress, hypothermia, overuse symptoms, pain, stress, anxiety and sleep disturbance. The proposals may be directed at modification, validation, integration or interpretation of existing human health sensors to optimize their utility on deep space missions. 

  • Proposals that seek to adapt existing, well validated, physical health sensing technologies for application in the deep space mission environment. Beyond technical adaptation of the technology the proposal should include performing proof of concept, feasibility and re-validation.
  • Proposals that seek to technologically integrate various sensors
  • Proposals that seek to establish and validate evidence-based algorithms from sensor data that will generate actionable insights regarding key conditions of concern in long duration flight. This will allow determination of a “condition or state” rather than a vital sign.
  • Proposals that seek to develop user-specific interfaces (ie, dashboards, alerts) to close the loop on actionable insights for the astronuats regarding their health status and provide recommended interventions. This will contribute to ultimate closed loop capability to detect, alert and advise individual astronauts (and crew chiefs) when they are “out of desired range” or demonstrating trends which may indicate or predict decline in physical state.

Examples of projects that WILL NOT be considered:

  • Proposals that include non-validated sensors or validated sensors that measure parameters not proven to be indicative or predictive of health or functional aberrancies.
  • Proposals that leverage technologies not feasible or adaptable for use within the constraints of deep space mission conditions
  • Proposals that do not address detection of physiologic or biometric indicators of dehydration, motion sickness, loss of appetite, fatigue/recovery, excessive weight loss, muscle loss/weakness, heat stress, hypothermia, overuse symptoms, pain, stress, anxiety and sleep disturbance.
  • Proposals that focus on monitoring and assessing health condition(s) not inlcuded on NASA's Medical Conditions List.

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