ESA title


  • ACTIVITYFeasibility Study
  • STATUSCompleted
  • THEMATIC AREAEducation & Training

Objectives of the service

The objective of the feasibility study is to assess the technical feasibility and the commercial viability of fast responding medical diagnose services for emergencies and life-threatening bio threats by integrating a mobile biotechnology laboratory technology with satellite telecommunications, satellite navigation and remote sensing for emergencies and life-threatening bio threats.

As seen in recent years, the successful management of sanitary crises such as CRBN (Chemical, Radiological, Biological, and Nuclear) threats, life threatening emerging diseases, outbreaks in remote areas, rely on the ability to perform rapid and reliable detection and identification of pathogens, e.g. anthrax cases in US in 2001 or the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in Ontario.

For a fast response, the B-LiFE service objective is to bring the diagnostic capacity as close as possible to the crisis area. This can be achieved by deploying a light fieldable laboratory capacity. As a result, potentially dangerous samples collected in the field do not have to be transported to distant conventional, fixed-site, reference laboratories.

For the optimal interaction with the global crisis management system at distant and local levels, all relevant information: medical, epidemiological, biological, etc. must be delivered in a timely manner, safely and securely by an autonomous and robust satellite communication service. Earth observation data delivers information regarding the area surrounding the contaminated zone such as topography, accessibility, existing infrastructures, population density and weather forecast. These are critical information for selecting the site for lab deployment and further monitoring. In the course of the crisis, this information will contribute to a better analysis and evaluation of the global impact and management of the crisis.

B-LiFE Objectives

Users and their needs

B-LiFE aims to service a broad array of potential users.

Target users include institutions such as foreign affairs departments, cooperation offices, local governments or health or defense ministries; European and international institutions; crisis management agencies at local and international level; NGOs that are lacking the appropriate laboratory capacity for disease detection and identification.

Other potential users of B-LiFE look to improve their field diagnostic capacity, for example, pharmaceutical companies, food manufacturers or companies having a need for medical diagnostic capacities in remote areas, like oil and mining companies. Local users as part of cooperation and development missions look to provide on-site lab training to local users.

Service/ system concept

How does B-LiFE operate?

  • The B-LiFE field deployable laboratory is a single platform, technology driven, for rapid identification of multiple biological agents.
  • The B-LiFE service can be mobilized in a few hours for deployment anywhere in the world.
  • Once in the field, the mobile laboratory can be deployed in a matter of hours to run the first tests.
  • Proven expertise of the staff in operating a laboratory of this kind.
  • Integration of a comprehensive communication system allowing the staff to share information and gather data with the central coordination office, with external laboratories, users or stakeholders at a local and international level.
  • High level of integration of system and components, including sampling, data, map analysis, IT components, geo-localization, the tests processed, the results and reports and the training.

Space Added Value

The integration of several space based technologies are critical to provide rapid field operational capabilities:

  • Satellite communications are required for the communications between the field teams and the command and control centre(s).
  • Earth observation imagery provides geographical information and maps of the crisis area.
  • Meteorological and weather forecasts need to be provided in order to support the forecast of disease spreading, the stability of medicines and the protection of the equipment in use.
  • Satellite navigation is used for georeferencing samples as well as for the tracking and tracing of the medical/biological and sampling staff and assets.

Current Status

The feasibility study has now completed the assessment of the definition and the viability of the B-LiFE services. The following tasks as part of the feasibility study have been performed:

  • Definition of a set of critical, realistic scenarios and missions for which a mobile deployable CRBN capacity, integrating the space assets, is of added value and justified, in accordance with the views of end users and stakeholders.
  • Assessment of the service requirements related to satellite telecommunication aspects.
  • Assessment of the requirements for site selection and monitoring.
  • State of the art and gap analysis for the different aspects of systems and technologies of the B-LiFE platform.
  • Definition of services and supporting system architecture, concept of operations and capacity, including personnel and logistics requirements.
  • The proof of concept of the deployment of a realistically simulated mission has been successfully demonstrated.
  • Analysis of the viability and sustainability of the future system and its associated services.
  • The roadmap for the full implementation of the B-LiFE system and its associated services is under development as well as the relevant inputs for the preparation of the demonstration phase of the project.

Partner Contacts

Roland Gueubel
Project Manager
Université catholique de Louvain - CTMA
Clos Chapelle-aux-Champs, 30
B-1200 Brussels
Tel: +32 498 49 71 26

Professor Jean-Luc Gala
Project Coordinator
Université catholique de Louvain - CTMA
Clos Chapelle-aux-Champs, 30
B-1200 Brussels
Tel: +32(2)764 31 65
Fax: +32(2) 764 3166

Status Date

Updated: 29 April 2015