UpFront

NASA Sensor Technology in Development to Measure Vital Signs

When undergoing medical treatment, monitoring things like blood pressure and heart rate usually means a variety of wires and sensors will be attached to a patient’s body. But thanks to technology developed at NASA, there might be a better way. A new biomedical sensor incorporating technology pioneered at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH, is being developed by a company called Endotronix for measuring blood pressure and heart rate.

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NASA Sensor Technology Helps Boaters

Just in time for summer, NASA-developed wireless sensor technology is giving recreational boaters safer and more accurate readings of how much fuel is in their tanks. The magnetic measuring system also has potential uses in planes, trains, and automobiles.

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NASA Engineers Improve GPS Signal Reception

GPS (Global Positioning System) navigational devices are as ubiquitous as cell phones, freely used by commercial and government users to determine location, time, and velocity. These tools, however, are only as good as the signals they receive. NASA engineers from Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, have found a way to improve the reception of those signals.

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NASA Tests Devices to Increase Truck Fuel Efficiency

Saving the nation $10 billion annually in diesel fuel costs may be possible in a few years, thanks to new devices developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and now being tested at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California.

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Metallic Foam Reduces Airplane Noise

For people who live around airports, noise created by planes can cause a disturbance. Researchers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH have been working with metallic foam that is installed around an engine to reduce noise. The firm foam, crafted from stainless steel, looks like a tightly compacted honeycomb made of silver metal, and feels uniform on the surface — gently abrasive, like a fine-grained pumice stone. “This is an open cell foam, which is mostly air. The foam is formed by ligaments — like a sponge that you use in your kitchen, except the ligaments are metal,” according to Glenn engineer, Cheryl Bowman.

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NASA Drops Chopper to Test New Technology

How do you make a helicopter safer to fly? You crash one. NASA aeronautics researchers at Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA, recently dropped a small helicopter from a height of 35 feet to see whether an expandable honeycomb cushion called a deployable energy absorber could lessen the destructive force of a crash. On impact, the helicopter’s skid landing gear bent outward, but the cushion attached to its belly kept the rotorcraft’s bottom from touching the ground. Researchers must analyze the test results before they can say for sure whether the deployable energy absorber worked as designed.

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NASA Reproduces a Building Block of Life in Laboratory

NASA scientists studying the origin of life have reproduced uracil, a key component of our hereditary material, in the laboratory. They discovered that an ice sample containing pyrimidine exposed to ultraviolet radiation under space-like conditions produces this essential ingredient of life. Pyrimidine is a ring-shaped molecule made up of carbon and nitrogen and is the basic structure for uracil, part of a genetic code found in ribonucleic acid (RNA).

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