NASA Radar Found 4 Nepali Men Trapped Under Wreckage by Their Heartbeats

May 6, 2015 Updated: July 18, 2015

From reconnaissance drones to satellites in orbit, the earthquake in Nepal has created an opportunity for a plethora of arcane gadgets to prove their uses to humanity. Last week, aide workers armed with two prototype FINDER devices rescued four Nepali men trapped under 10 feet of bricks, mud, and other rubble in the quake-stricken village of Chautara—the FINDER device had detected their heartbeats.

FINDER, which stands for Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response, is a microwave-radar technology that was originally developed by NASA to aide in the discovery of extra-terrestrial life in planets outside of the solar system.

“The true test of any technology is how well it works in a real-life operational setting,” said Dr. Reginald Brothers, an official at the Department of Homeland Security. “No one wants disasters to occur, but tools like this are designed to help when our worst nightmares do happen.”

The FINDER (NASA JPL)
The FINDER (NASA JPL)

The FINDER is designed with the capability to detect people buried beneath 30 feet of rubble, 20 feet of solid concrete, and those 100 feet away in open spaces.

The device had been brought to Nepal by David Lewis, president of a private company that is partnered with NASA’s Science and Technology Directorate.

The FINDER is in the process of becoming a mass-manufactured device that will be sold to search and rescue teams around the world.