Tricorders & Sensors

Tricorder Tech: The Moon Microscope Is Headed For Space

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
November 17, 2022
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Tricorder Tech: The Moon Microscope Is Headed For Space
Staining reagents and syringe storage box (upper left), staining device (lower left), and miniature microscope (right) for the Moon Microscope investigation. Credits: NASA JSC Immunology/Virology Laboratory

SpaceX’s 26th commercial resupply mission (CRS) is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Nov. 21.

The Dragon spacecraft carries scientific experiments and technology demonstrations that explore growing plants in space, creating nutrients on-demand, in-space construction, and more.

Moon Microscope tests a kit for in-flight medical diagnosis that includes a portable hand-held microscope and a small self-contained blood sample staining device. An astronaut collects and stains a blood sample, obtains images with the microscope, and transmits images to the ground, where flight surgeons use them to diagnose illness and prescribe treatment.

“We do not have a profound clinical problem on the space station, but crew members do experience changes in their immune systems,” says NASA immunologist and principal investigator Brian Crucian. “During deep space missions, all stressors increase and our ability to care for the crew is reduced, a combination that could increase certain clinical risks. This project is designed to create a diagnostic laboratory capability that is highly miniaturized and compatible with microgravity and operational constraints. An ill crew member could perform the blood smear, imaging, and transmission of images in minutes.”

The kit could provide diagnostic capabilities for crew members in space or on the surface of the Moon or Mars, as well as the ability to test water, food, and surfaces for contamination. The hardware also may enable improved medical monitoring on upcoming Artemis and Gateway missions.


Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻