Nasa Instrument Helping Rescue Mexico Quake Survivors

IAS Prelims 2023

A suitcase-sized NASA radar instrument, that can detect heartbeats, is helping disaster relief workers save lives of people trapped under rubble after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake shook Mexico City.

The technology called Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER) was developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate in the US.

FINDER sends a low-powered microwave signal—about one-thousandth of a cell phone’s output—through rubble.

It looks for changes in the reflections of those signals coming back from tiny motions caused by victims’ breathing and heartbeats.

In tests, FINDER has detected heartbeats through 30 feet of rubble or 20 feet of solid concrete.

FINDER is used alongside a variety of other techniques, including trained dogs, acoustic sensing devices and thermal imagers. All these techniques are usually deployed together.

When FINDER was deployed to Nepal after a major earthquake in 2015, it helped find four men trapped under a collapsed textile factory.