Innovations in space science often push the boundaries of science and engineering. The very nature of space research attracts some of the brightest minds in science, to improve our understanding of the cosmos. The breakthroughs that have helped broaden our understanding of the known universe could now help us treat one of the deadliest diseases, i.e. cancer.
Scientists in the United Kingdom have received a cool £1 million to develop a cutting 3D X-ray machine which can greatly improve the current cancer detection capabilities. What’s interesting is that this device is based on the same technology that astronomers use to map and study stars across the universe. The funding was granted by the UK Space Agency. Cancer is one of the most difficult diseases to diagnose and treat, with many patients getting diagnosed only when the disease progresses to later stages, making treatment all the more difficult and expensive. Such lapses in diagnostics often end up costing patients their lives.
The scanners on the X-ray device consist of field emitters embedded into silicon chips that are used in X-ray optics. The same devices are mounted on spacecraft that map star clusters and distant galaxies. Cancer claims millions of lives each year and scientists across the globe have been struggling to find a cure for decades. An early diagnosis can go a long way in reducing the mortality rates among cancer patients.