Medical practitioners routinely face many of the same challenges as those dedicated to caring for astronauts. There are many parallels with astronauts, as they are unable to send samples back to Earth for analysis. As the international space exploration community begins to focus more on distant destinations, such as the Moon or Mars, autonomous biodiagnostic technology will be critical to keeping the crew healthy during long-term missions.
Flow cytometers are common research or clinical laboratory instruments, and are used for a range of bioanalysis and clinical applications to diagnose health disorders, ranging from detecting blood cancers and immunological pathologies in human beings to identifying bacterial pathogens in food or water. Capitalizing on it’s expertise in lasers, and fibre optics, INO developed Microflow, a miniaturized, portable, automatic and robust cytometer. The Microflow test platform will be introduced on the ISS in 2013 during the flight of Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield.