From precision GPS to batteries for one of the world's first commercial all-electric airplanes, NASA technology turns up in nearly every corner of modern life. The latest edition of NASA's Spinoff publication features dozens of commercial technologies that were developed or improved by the agency's space program, including by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, California, and benefit people everywhere.
"NASA works hard, not only to develop technology that pushes the boundaries of aeronautics and space exploration, but also to put those innovations into the hands of businesses and entrepreneurs who can turn them into solutions for challenges we all face here on Earth," said Jim Reuter, acting associate administrator of the agency's Space Technology Mission Directorate. "These are sometimes predictable, like the many NASA technologies now adopted by the burgeoning commercial space industry, but more often they appear in places that may seem unrelated, like hospitals, farms, factories and family rooms."
In this issue of Spinoff, the agency shares new stories of how:
- The world has come to rely on GPS signal correction software created by JPL, which enables precision agriculture, airplane navigation, smartphones, offshore oil drilling, Earth science and much more.
- Material meant to bring back samples from Mars, originally developed for JPL, is now used in life-saving sutures during heart surgery.
- An autonomous robot with four limbs built by JPL has been updated to work in hazardous environments - like disaster zones, chemical plants, or the battlefield - where it can stand in for a human.
- A JPL invention that uses lasers (instead of radio waves) to send data through space could also improve secure communication for places like hospitals, banks, and others handling sensitive data.
- NASA's work to push the envelope of flight resulted in advanced battery packs that power one of the first commercial all-electric airplanes.
- A lightweight, high-pressure tank NASA invented to hold rocket fuel now stores life-saving oxygen to keep pilots, firefighters and intensive care patients breathing; it can also hold gases that power city buses and even paintball guns.
The publication provides nearly 50 examples of how NASA benefits various industries and people around the world. For example, fitness enthusiasts may be surprised to learn about NASA's contribution to the Bowflex Revolution resistance-exercise home gym. Other highlights include a crucial component of pacemakers that have helped save lives around the world, as well as reactors that use electricity-"breathing" bacteria to clean wastewater and generate power at wineries and breweries.
"The variety and complexity of NASA's missions drive innovations in virtually every field of technology," said Daniel Lockney, executive of NASA's Technology Transfer program. "The result is that there's not an industry or business out there that can't make use of our groundbreaking work."
The publication also includes a "Spinoffs of Tomorrow" section that showcases 20 new NASA technologies available for license. One innovation on the list uses new materials to literally reinvent the wheel. The superelastic tires were inspired by the Apollo era and developed for future exploration of the Moon and Mars. The technology could find another purpose on Earth.
Spinoff is part of the agency's Technology Transfer program within the Space Technology Mission Directorate. The program is charged with finding the widest possible applications for NASA technology through partnerships and licensing agreements with industry, ensuring that NASA's investments in its missions and research find additional applications that benefit the nation and the world.
Print and digital versions of the latest issue of Spinoff are available at:
An iPad version, including shortened versions of the stories, as well as multimedia and interactive features, is available for download in the iTunes store.
For more information about NASA's Technology Transfer program, visit:
News Media ContactArielle Samuelson
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.