NASA, DHS Demo Victim Location Radar

NASA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday demonstrated a portable radar device intended to detect heartbeats and breathing patterns of victims trapped in large piles of rubble after a disaster.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will also test the Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response system this year and next, NASA said Wednesday.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and DHS' science and technology directorate developed FINDER to be based on remote-sensing radar technology that NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. designed to monitor the location of spacecraft JPL manages.

"FINDER is bringing NASA technology that explores other planets to the effort to save lives on ours," said Mason Peck, NASA chief technologist.

FINDER works to send microwave radar signals into debris piles and analyze signals in a similar manner to how NASA's Deep Space Network locates spacecraft.

DSN sends a light wave to a spacecraft and calculates how far away the spacecraft is based on the amount of time it takes for the signal to return.

"Detecting small motions from the victim's heartbeat and breathing from a distance uses the same kind of signal processing as detecting the small changes in motion of spacecraft like Cassini as it orbits Saturn," said James Lux, task manager for FINDER at JPL.

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