NASA Spinoff

Ever stand up too quickly from a sitting or lying position and feel dizzy or disoriented for a brief moment? The downward push of Earth’s gravity naturally causes blood to settle in the lower areas of the human body, and occasionally, with a quick movement—such as rising swiftly from a chair—the body is not able to adjust fast enough to deliver an adequate supply of blood to the upper parts of the body and the brain. This sudden, temporary drop in blood pressure is what causes brief feelings of lightheadedness upon standing. In essence, when the heart pumps blood to different parts of the body, it is working against the physical phenomenon of gravity in its efforts to send blood up to the brain.

More and more people are putting away their eye-glasses and contact lenses as a result of laser vision correction surgery. LASIK, the most widely performed version of this surgical procedure, improves vision by reshaping the cornea, the clear front surface of the eye, using an excimer laser. One excimer laser system, Alcon’s LADARVision® 4000, utilizes a laser radar (LADAR) eye tracking device that gives it unmatched precision.

Referred to as the lifeline for any space launch vehicle by NASA Space Launch Initiative Program Manager Warren Wiley, an umbilical is a large device that transports power, communications, instrument readings, and fluids such as propellants, pressurization gasses, and coolants from one source to another. Numerous launch vehicles, planetary systems, and rovers require umbilical mating. This process is a driving factor for dependable and affordable space access.

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has given the world amazing images of the distant stars, planets, and galaxies. The cutting-edge imaging technology that enhances the Hubble images also extends its benefits to life here on Earth, from deciphering previously unreadable portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls to improving digital mammographies for advanced cancer detection. This imaging technology is now helping physicians to perform micro-invasive arthroscopic surgery, which is the visual examination of an interior joint such as the knee.

Originally conceived for use in terrestrial remote sensing applications, NASA's Hierarchical Segmentation (HSEG) software has found its way into a new medical imaging system, allowing for enhanced detection and management of medical conditions and diseases.

While gravity has its advantages in keeping us balanced and grounded here on Earth, scientists often find that they are at a disadvantage when trying to conduct research under its powerful, pulling influence. In these instances, the scientists prefer performing their studies in the weightless atmosphere of microgravity, where gravity is greatly reduced and solids, liquids, and gases behave differently.

While gravity has its advantages in keeping us balanced and grounded here on Earth, scientists often find that they are at a disadvantage when trying to conduct research under its powerful, pulling influence. In these instances, the scientists prefer performing their studies in the weightless atmosphere of microgravity, where gravity is greatly reduced and solids, liquids, and gases behave differently.

Technology and medicine forged a bond in 1986 when a group of dedicated NASA scientists, University of Southern California (USC) medical professors, and a Dutch cardiologist joined forces to prevent heart attacks, using ultrasound images of astronauts blood-flow patterns and the supercomputer depended upon to orchestrate the Star Wars Strategic Defense Initiative.

Four years ago, Argonide Corporation, a company focused on the research, production, and marketing of specialty nano materials, was seeking to develop applications for its NanoCeram fibers. Only 2 nanometers in diameter, these nano aluminum oxide fibers possessed unusual bio-adhesive properties. When formulated into a filter material, the electropositive fibers attracted and retained electronegative particles such as bacteria and viruses in water-based solutions. This technology caught the interest of NASA as a possible solution for improved water filtratration space cabins.

Throughout its existence, NASA has made many amazing discoveries in the field of optics that have led to improved eye care and eye wear applications on Earth. Innovations such as laser eye-tracking for LASIK vision-correction procedures, eye trackers that enable people with severe disabilities to communicate and control their environment using only their eye movements, and scratch-resistant and radiation-blocking lenses are just a taste of the Space Agency's optical accomplishments.

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