XPAntarctik, a crew of six experienced explorers, leaves Canada today on the first leg of an unprecedented 45‑day expedition to Antarctica. During their expedition, the team will be testing Astroskin, a prototype “smart shirt” for space for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
Developed for the CSA by Carré Technologies of Montréal, Québec, Astroskin is a prototype medical monitoring system designed for astronauts that could, one day, become an important tool for patients here on Earth. The shirt is equipped with a series of non‑invasive sensors that automatically record and process the wearer’s vital signs, sleep quality and activity level. This data is relayed to medical teams on the ground to monitor a crew member’s health, behaviour and performance during daily operations and exercise, or to assist in watching over sick or injured astronauts. Although the system was designed with astronauts in mind, its ability to manage the wearer’s medical data from any location holds great promise for patients on Earth requiring close medical surveillance, especially those in remote communities, far from a doctor.
Like all space technologies, Astroskin must be tested extensively to understand its performance and how it can be improved for use in space. The CSA has teamed up with the Université du Québec à Montréal, which will test the prototype in its labs, in addition to the tests with XPAntarctik. Professors Jean P. Boucher and Alain Steve Comtois will assess Astroskin’s accuracy, reliability of data, ease of use and comfort.
– Astroskin will be put to the test in the unpredictable conditions that the XPAntarctik explorers will face in Antarctica, which are comparable to the extreme environment and isolated conditions experienced by space-farers.
– CSA Astronaut David Saint-Jacques, who has an avid interest in polar exploration, will follow and interact with the expedition members on social media during their mission. Saint-Jacques will wear an Astroskin prototype during his regular exercise routine, comparing and sharing his experience with the crew in Antarctica.
– Carré Technologies has also developed Hexoskin, a version commercially available for athletes and used by research institutions to monitor health outside of the usual clinical settings, during real life activities.
– XPAntarctik’s expedition begins on February 2, when the crew will set sail from Argentina for Antarctica.