UpFront

NASA Spinoff Brings Nanotechnology to Market

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, licensed its patented technique for manufacturing high-quality, single-walled carbon nanotubes (CNTs) to Idaho Space Materials (ISM) in Boise. Carbon nanotubes based on this process are being used by researchers and companies working on the next generation of composite polymers, metals, and ceramics that will impact almost every facet of life.

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NASA Uses Common CPUs for Radiation-Resistant Computers

EAFTC computers in a space-ready flight chassis. (NASA/Honeywell)Most space missions use radiation-hardened (rad-hard) computer chips to avoid glitches caused by space radiation. These chips contain extra transistors that take more energy to switch on and off, but they are also expensive, slow, and power-hungry. Using the same inexpensive Pentium and PowerPC chips found in consumer PCs would make spacecraft computers faster, but they wouldn’t be rad-hard.

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Waterless Washing Machine Wins Design Award

The Airwash system cleans clothes without water or detergents. (Electrolux)Gabriel Tan and Wendy Chua, industrial design students at the National University of Singapore, recently won the Electrolux Design Lab Award sponsored by the Electrolux Group. The annual award invites participants to design household appliances for the future.

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NASA Technology Lets You Cook Dinner From the Office

By combining remote-control technology with the capability to cook and refrigerate food, the Connect Io Intelligent Oven lets you have dinner ready when you get home.David Mansbery used to be president of a natural gas supply company, and NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland was one of his biggest customers. With a busy schedule, Mansbery rarely had time to cook meals for his family. His idea was to create an oven that would let him cook dinner from the road. He pitched the idea of a hot-and-cold, remotely controlled oven to NASA, which supplied him with its Embedded Web Technology software.

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NASA LED Chips Light the Way to Safe Healing

The WARP 10 was designed to assist armed forces personnel with immediate first-aid care for minor injuries and pain.Light-emitting diode (LED) chips used to grow plants in space are now being used on Earth for healing wounds and treating chronic pain and cancer. In 1993, Quantum Devices Inc. (QDI) of Barneveld, WI, began developing technology to create high-intensity, solid-state LED systems for NASA’s space shuttle plant growth experiments. The company found that red LED wavelengths could boost the energy metabolism of cells to advance plant growth.

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NASA Technology Used to Rehab Soldiers

With S.A.M., only one therapist is needed to assist a patient, even if the patient has no sense of balance. (NASA)A physical therapy device based on NASA-developed technology is being used by Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, to rehabilitate military patients — including soldiers returning from Iraq — who have spinal cord or traumatic brain injuries. The Secure Ambulation Module (S.A.M.) is a product of Enduro Medical Technology of East Hartford, CT.

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NASA Experiment Studies Next-Generation Smoke Detectors

A candle flame in Earth’s gravity (left) and microgravity (right) show the difference in the processes of combustion in microgravity. (NASA/Glenn Research Center)As frightening as a fire is on Earth, it’s even scarier in space. “If a chair is on fire in your home, you have time to get out. In a spacecraft, you don’t,” said NASA scientist Dr. David Urban. “You have to detect smoke in an early pre-fire state, so you can stop it before it starts.”

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