NASA to the rescue! Earlier this week, the U.S. space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) deployed two prototype microwave-radar FINDER devices to Nepal to support search and rescue teams in earthquake-stricken areas. The FINDER devices have already been used to locate four men who were trapped beneath 10 feet of rubble in the hard-hit village of Chautara in Nepal.
Statement from DHS Under Secretary and NASA Chief Technologist
“The true test of any technology is how well it works in a real-life operational setting,” noted DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology Dr. Reginald Brothers. “Of course, no one wants disasters to occur, but tools like this are designed to help when our worst nightmares do happen. I am proud that we were able to provide the tools to help rescue these four men.”
“NASA technology plays many roles: driving exploration, protecting the lives of our astronauts and improving–even saving–the lives of people on Earth,” commented Dr. David Miller, NASA’s chief technologist. “FINDER exemplifies how technology designed for space exploration has profound impacts to life on Earth.”
More details on NASA’s FINDER technology
The JPL team and commercial partner R4 Inc brought two prototype FINDER devices to Nepal last week to assist in the rescue efforts. The team joined international rescuers from China, the Netherlands, Belgium asa well as members of the Nepali Army in Northern Nepal. With the FINDER technology, the searchers were able to detect two heartbeats beneath each of two different collapsed structures, and rescue workers eventually located and saved the men.
Of note, FINDER has shown in earlier tests that it can detect people buried under up to 30 feet of soil or rubble, hidden behind 20 feet of solid concrete, and from a distance of over 100 feet in open spaces. A “locator” feature now provides search and rescue responders with confirmation of a heartbeat and the approximate location of trapped people (accuracy is within around five feet depending on the rubble).