EEG monitoring in space – Smarting PRO onboard of the AX-2 mission

In this new chapter at mbt, we are redefining the out of the lab EEG research. This time, we are sending Smarting PRO EEG monitoring system to space. It will track astronauts brain data aboard the international space station (ISS).

Smarting PRO within Axiom Mission for Mental Wellbeing in Space

We at mbt love making small, light devices that track brain activity. We want to help researchers take their work from the lab into the real world. This time, we’re excited to announce that our Smarting PRO will embark on a journey aboard the international space station (ISS). It’s part of the Nebula research program on the Axiom 2 mission.

The mission will launch from the Kennedy space center in Florida on Sunday, May 21 at 5:37 p.m. EDT. The Crew Dragon capsule Freedom will be carried by the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Freedom will take about 16 hours to reach the ISS, docking at the orbiting lab on Monday morning (May 22).

See the mission highlights and favourite moments below

As you might know, space exploration is not only about studying stars and planets. It is also about studying how human mind and body responds to unique conditions in space. By looking at the brain in space, we can learn about the mental health problems astronauts might face on long missions. This is exactly what Nebula program is about. 

And that’s where our Smarting PRO comes in. We designed it to optimise portability having in mind out of the lab research. We also cared about its easy-to-use design and comprehensive feature set. This made Smarting PRO perfectly suited for the role of the in-space EEG monitoring device. It’s now all set to help the astronauts onboard the ISS in conducting brain studies in microgravity. And we are more than excited about that.

EEG monitoring in space – why is it important?

Space, often referred to as the final frontier, isn’t just about studying distant galaxies and black holes. It also provides a unique setting to unravel the mysteries of our own biology, particularly our brains. So, let’s delve into why studying EEG in space is so important. Well, there are several reasons for that:

Understanding the impacts of microgravity on brain function

Smarting PRO - the miniature, lightweight 32 channel EEG monitoring device used in Axiom 2 mission’s Nebula program abroad International Space Station

mBrainTrain mission is to take EEG recordings out of the lab. This is because we now have many proofs that brain does not behave the same way in the lab as outside in the real world.

Taking it to space, under the influence of lower gravity (so-called microgravity), is the whole new dimension. Onboard the ISS, Axiom team will be able to track how human brain adapts to this new condition. For instance, changes in blood flow due to microgravity could impact brain function, and EEG can help us understand it better.

Monitoring Astronaut Health and Performance

Long-term space travel has physical and psychological effects on astronauts. Sleep disruptions, stress, and changes in cognition are only some of the issues they face. Continuous EEG monitoring helps assessing astronaut’s cognitive health, stress levels, sleep quality, and mental workload in real-time. This could significantly improve safety and performance during extended space missions.

You are familiar with Musk’s vision of extraterrestrial human civilisations? Well, humans are paving the way to extended space missions to Moon, Mars and beyond. In this sense, understanding how the human brain works in space is crucial.

On these ambitious missions, continuous EEG monitoring can identify potential issues early. Then we can take appropriate countermeasures or treatments on time to ensure the safety and well-being of astronauts . On top of it, EEG monitoring will track their workload imposed by the equipment onboard.

Further Contributing Neuroscience Research

But studying brain in space is not only important for space research. It is contributing to neuroscience, too. Space provides a unique setting to explore how the brain adapts to new environments and experiences. This characteristic is known as brain plasticity.

Studies conducted in space can offer unique insights and complement our terrestrial research, possibly leading to new breakthroughs in our understanding of neurological and cognitive function.

About the Axiom 2 space mission

Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2) will be Axiom Space’s second all-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS), marking another pivotal step toward Axiom Station, the world’s first commercial space station and successor to the ISS.

Axiom 2 (Ax-2) space mission crew. Peggy Whitson, Ax-2 Commander ; John Shoffner, Ax-2 Pilot; Ali AlQarni, Ax-2 Mission Specialist; Rayyanah Barnawi, Ax-2 Mission Specialist

The Ax-2 crew is currently scheduled to launch no earlier than May 21, 2023. The four-person Axiom Space 2 crew by  is currently in quarantine making final preparations ahead of the mission. The crew involves:

  • Peggy Whitson, Ax-2 Commander

  • John Shoffner, Ax-2 Pilot

  • Ali AlQarni, Ax-2 Mission Specialist

  • Rayyanah Barnawi, Ax-2 Mission Specialist

Axiom Space’s Director of Human Spaceflight Peggy Whitson, a former NASA astronaut and ISS commander, will lead the mission. Aviator John Shoffner of Knoxville, Tennessee, will serve as pilot. The two mission specialists are Ali Alqarni and Rayyanah Barnawi from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

Recommended reading