FINDER: NASA tech detects heartbeats trapped under Turkey quake debris

The spinoff uses microwave radar, which can penetrate through the rubble, to detect heartbeats and respiration.
Nergis Firtina
Earthquake in Hatay, Turkey
Earthquake in Hatay, Turkey

Anadolu Agency/Getty 

After the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria, the countries have been trying to bind up their wounds. Rescue teams are still working to save people’s lives, although it has been nearly two weeks.

NASA's disaster relief teams will employ "FINDER" equipment to identify the body's tiniest motions caused by essential life functions in Turkey, which was mainly affected by the earthquake.

Backronym of Finding Individuals for Disaster Emergency Response, FINDER uses microwave radar sensors to find survivors underneath rubble or in avalanches by remotely detecting their heartbeat and respiration, as per

NASA reported that the technology was transported to Turkey last weekend. Since the two 7.8 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes occurred on February 6, more than 41,000 victims have been discovered dead under the debris.

FINDER: NASA tech detects heartbeats trapped under Turkey quake debris
The Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response prototype technology.

Following the terrible earthquake in Haiti in 2010, a team from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California created the FINDER technology, which the Florida-based SpecOps Group later commercialized.

"NASA’s hearts and minds are with those impacted by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said. "NASA is our eyes in the sky, and our teams of experts are working hard to provide valuable information from our Earth-observing fleet to first responders on the ground."

More about FINDER

“Your body moves a millimeter when your heart beats. Because the rubble itself isn’t moving, we can separate those motions out. Then, we look to see if the motion shows both heartbeats and respiration,” said Jim Lux, task manager on the FINDER prototypes.

According to NASA, in the hectic atmosphere of search and rescue, the ability of FINDER to discern between human and machine motion—and even between humans and animals—is crucial.

The prototypes were constructed inside a Pelican case, a ruggedized carrying case often used to transport expensive gear and apparatus. First aid personnel is familiar with packing and maintaining Pelican bags because they have other equipment.

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