Space and Global Health/Space4Health

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This learning resource supports a workflow from a given Health Problem towards the application of Space Technology. This learning resource applies the Open Community Approach and therefore the learning material is stored in Wikiversity. The quality assurance model applies the concept of Public-Private-Versioning for Open Educational Resources.


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  • Explore analyse a (public) health problem of your choice (see Grand Challenges)
  • Perform a Risk Management for the health problem.
  • Explore the contributions of Space Technology to risk mitigation in terms of
    • Remote Sensing
    • Navigation and Routing support
    • Satellite Communication
    • Solutions developed for Space Technology that can be applied e.g. for humanitarian purpose on earth (e.g. water purification systems on ISS[1]).

Learning Task

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  • Analyse the concept tele-epidemiology and compare the remote sensing tools with non-space-tech methods! Dig into more details in the following sections.
  • Explore the link Space and Global Health at the science-policy interface!

Vector-bourne Diseases

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Mosquito as disease vector - Aedes albopictus
  • Mosquitos require specific environmental conditions to develop (e.g. temperature, percipitation, stagnant water, ...)
  • Analyse the basic risk and response cycle and link options of response of the public health system and vector control units to the risk map. Explain the relevance of Risk Literacy for efficiant implementation of risk mitigation strategies.
  • Plastic waste creates stagnant water with predators for the mosquito larvae. Explain possible risk mitigation strategies that citizens, rural communities or municipality could have full control of. How is the plastic waste problem for stagnant water linked to other One Health problems (e.g. micro plastic in food chain or in general marine One Health risk mitigation - see ESA2019 Presentation in Southamption - use Firefox/Safari/Chrome for audioslides4web)

Algae Bloom

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Red Tide - Algae Bloom

thumb|right|Red tide (NOAA) Algae bloom (Red Tide) can be detected by remote sensing. The toxicant carried by the algae can kill mammals like dolphin, have an impact on food security and public health. Explore the details about Red Tide - Algae Bloom. Explain how this topic is related to the general quality of water and food security?

Respiratory Disease

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This animation shows aerosol optical thickness of emitted and transported key tropospheric aerosols from 17 August 2006 to 10 April 2007, from a 10 km resolution GEOS-5 "nature run" using the GOCART model.[2][3] (click for more detail)
* green: black and organic carbon
* red/orange: dust
* white: sulfates
* blue: sea salt
Movie map of distribution of aerosol particles, based on data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite.
* Green areas show aerosol plumes dominated by larger particles.
* Red areas show aerosol plumes dominated by small particles.
* Yellow areas show where large and small aerosol particles are mixing.
* Gray shows where the sensor did not collect data.

In comparision to male-nutrition (including sugar, ... in preprocessed food) people cannot escape breathing the air in area they live in. Smelling the toxicants is difficult for humans and particulates in the air are dependent on weather conditions. Analyse and explain the impact on public health [4]. How can space technology contributed to risk mapping and how could the public health system tailor interventions to mitigate the risk for citizens?

Disaster Management and Global Health

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  • Analyse Cholorea in the context of extreme flood events.
  • Analyse possibilities to assess floodings with Satellite technology.
  • Explore which governmental and non-governmental organisations are involved in risk mitigation.
  • Availabilty of electricity is necessary for health care facilites and the provided health service delivery. How can satellite technology and light emission with before-after comparison determine the spatial availability of electricity? Perform the task with satellite images of a real flood event or earthquake and analyse optical images during night before and after the event. How can you automize this process with image analysis.
  • Flood events can destroy building. How can satellite images help to assess the damage of buildings and how does that have an impact on health service delivery if hospitals are affected?[5]
  • Flood events can block access to health care facilities even if the hospital is still in operation. Explain how routing and navigation can be support with mobile devices and satellite communication and data exchange if a land slide has blocked a road due to an additional extrem event of rain fall?
  • What is the contribution of tele-medicine and tele-health in such an event.
  • What can be done in non-disaster periods for preparedness and how can the satellite technology be helpful for health service delivery in very remote areas?
  • What are possible problems and challenges of technology in remote areas in terms of sustainability[6] and maintenance[7]?

Human Space Flight

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NASA Astronaut Bruce McCandless II using a Manned Maneuvering Unit outside Space Shuttle Challenger on shuttle mission STS-41-B in 1984.

Spin-Off for Earth Application

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Human space flight has deal with remoteness, size and weight limitations, missing health expert (telemedicine for astronauts/kosmonauts) e.g. on ISS and provide health services in outer space as an hostile environment. Robustness of technology and innovative technology like lab-on-a-chip minimizes lab experiments in size and provides an IT interface for processing the data in a digital ICT infrastructure. The innovations like water purifications on ISS can be used on earth in areas were fresh water resources are (temporarily) not available. The Technology Readiness Level (TRL) for space application might be different for applications on earth due to different requirements and constraints on earth. Explore e.g. NASA Life Science portal for further details and discuss challenges, obstacles and requirements and constraints for applications on earth and especially the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) for application in development countries. Compare the technology with Low-Cost-Approaches for water management.

Astronauts and Kosmonauts can be ambassadors for appreciation and protection of our earth and environment. Alexander Gerst, Jim Lovell, ... et. al. speak e.g. about thin vulnerable layer of atmosphere around earth and planet earth vanishing behind a thumb from a moon orbit. Global drivers for fundamental changes on earth (like Climate Change) require a systemic thinking approach regarding Health in the context of 17 Sustainable Developement Goals and consider the connectivity between health, enconomy, environment, culture and psychological aspects of Risk Literacy.

  • (Sustainable Development Goals) Analyse the activities of astronauts to act as ambassadors for appreciation and protection of our earth and environment! Explain the role of astronauts for explaining the short-comings, benefits, challenges ... of Space technology for accomplishment of Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Analyse the link between
    • Health,
    • Economy,
    • Environment,
    • cultural and social aspects,
    • ...
and explain, why an isolated focus solely on health can not address interlinked problems like Climate Change alone. What are in general the main drivers for change in economy and society and how does human space flight contribute to that and what are the limitations?
  • (Science Communication) Explain the role of science communication and explain access and reading of peer-reviewed journals to the public? What is role of education in this context?
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The One Health links between domains are relevant also on the organisational level. One United Nations is an approach to link the different organisations and programmes within the UN system. For the Expert Focus Group for Space and Global Health the link between UNOOSA and WHO is important. One Health as a link between animal health, environmental health and public health extends health risk mitigation strategies. The use of natural resources and fossile fuel can not stopped from one day to another. Nevertheless the qualitative message of the Earth Overshot Day addresses the limitations of a Supermarkt Approach ("Fridge empty - buy new resources") on a more basic comprehensive level. These limitations on deeper systems thinking level addresses fundamental interfaces between member states on a governmental level between different domains. Explain how existing infrastructure at United Nations can be used to address the cross-domain problem solving between UN Organisations, UN Programmes, ...?

Create a Proposal for a Health Problem in Wikiversity

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Start with a relevant health problem of global importance and collect all available response options. Compare PROs and CONs for different approaches and analyse the impact of strategies!

  • See Open Proposal Management and try to generate an Open Proposal for the application of Space Technology in the Health Domain:
  • Refer in your proposal to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Identify the benefits and limits of Open Proposal Managements in the context of Space Technology and and Global Health.
  • analyse the current State of the Art (SoA) and identify limitation of current approaches - is it possible, that developing countries can benefit from the suggested approach
  • compare PROs and CONs of space technology with other methodologies for Risk Management in the Health Domain.
  • is the proposal designed with the Open Community Approach as foundation or is the access to the results restricted due to the limitations of the commercial applcications in the future.

See also

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  1. Wieland, P. O. (1998). Living together in space: the design and operation of the life support systems on the International Space Station. Huntsville, AL: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Marshall Space Flight Center.
  2. GMAO – Research
  3. GMAO – Research
  4. Chronic Respiratory Diseases - World Health Organisation - accessed 2019/02/26
  5. Jin, X., & Davis, C. H. (2005). Automated building extraction from high-resolution satellite imagery in urban areas using structural, contextual, and spectral information. EURASIP Journal on Advances in Signal Processing, 2005(14), 745309.
  6. Liverman, D. M., Hanson, M. E., Brown, B. J., & Merideth, R. W. (1988). Global sustainability: toward measurement. Environmental management, 12(2), 133-143.
  7. Fraser, H. S., & St John, D. M. (2000). Information technology and telemedicine in sub-Saharan Africa: Economical solutions are available to support health care in remote areas. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 321(7259), 465.