Tele-echography on the International Space Station

During the Proxima mission of Thomas Pesquet, accomplished during his stay in the International Space Station of November 2016 to May 2017, this one carried out a whole series of experiments, one of which particularly concerned Optimalog: the ECHO experience.

This is an experiment in tele-ultrasound, i.e. remote-controlled medical ultrasound. In this final version of the experiment, Optimalog has developed :

  • the virtual probe, similar to a classic real ultrasound probe, but here intended to capture the movements of the operator, in order to transmit it at the end of the chain to a motorized probe supplied by the company Vermon
  • the software for controlling this virtual probe
  • the communication protocol linking this software to the ultrasound console at a remote location.

This system is able to operate on Earth without difficulty via an internet connection. Thus, before the Proxima mission, the system was extensively used and tested by Professor Philippe Arbeille, specialist in space medicine, and consultant for CNES to the ECHO project. Transmission via a cell phone and a mini PC thus enabled him to carry out real ultrasounds from a TGV train in circulation, or stationary in a motorway parking lot. Communication with the ISS presents only a few additional difficulties, particularly in terms of security and reliability.

Poster of Professor Arbeille, presented to NASA in Galveston (click to enlarge)

Letter from the Société Savante de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace of June 2020, in which the Echo project is mentioned and citing the company Optimalog (page 74).

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