Washington: ESA is building a prototype tester for crews on the International Space Station to provide diagnoses within a few minutes from a pinprick of blood.
The ultimate device will offer rapid health checks and results for scientific research.
The droplet is placed on a portable device built around a disc like a mini-DVD. The disc is set spinning to separate the sample into plasma and serum for a whole range of simultaneous tests.
On the ground, there are already numerous applications - the automated laboratory unit covers illnesses such as heart disease, prostate cancer, diabetes and liver disease.
The space device is being developed by Irish company Radisens Diagnostic, which began working with ESA in 2011.
The first phase of the partnership with ESA assessed its suitability for space, with this new phase intending to design practical prototypes for use on the Station and other future manned space missions.
Weightless living aboard the confined quarters of the orbital outpost can lead to various negative consequences, but the day-by-day oversight by medical experts on the ground is limited. What Radisens will develop is of the utmost interest," comments ESA`s Francois Gaubert . "Being able to perform rapid analysis of astronauts` blood samples and monitor their physiological parameters aboard the Station, without having to transport the samples down to labs on the ground, would prove extremely useful."