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Surprising Science

Portable Radar Could Help Locate Buried Disaster Victims

The device employs the same technology NASA uses to locate Cassini’s position in deep space. With it, searchers can find people buried under as much as 30 feet of crushed material.

What’s the Latest Development?

Representatives from NASA and the US Department of Homeland Security demonstrated a new device that can locate people buried under up to 30 feet of crushed material. The device, Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER), works by “[isolating] the tiny signals from a person’s moving chest by filtering out other signals, such as those from moving trees and animals.” Developers borrowed the technology from that used by NASA’s Deep Space Network to locate the Cassini spacecraft as it orbits Saturn: “A light wave is sent…and the time it takes for the signal to get back reveals how far away the spacecraft is.”

What’s the Big Idea?

When rescuing victims buried by buildings that collapsed due to earthquakes, bombs, or other disasters, time is of the essence. Homeland Security program manager John Price says, “The ultimate goal of FINDER is…to quickly identify the presence of living victims, allowing rescue workers to more precisely deploy their limited resources.” It can penetrate through solid concrete up to 20 feet, and in open spaces can find people from up to 100 feet away.

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Read it at Discovery News


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