NASA Spinoff

World Wind Tools Reveal Environmental Change

NASA Technology “Who has more satellite data than NASA?” asks Patrick Hogan. The question is a rhetorical one. After dozens of Earth-observing satellite launches and missions to other planets, NASA has accumulated an unmatched amount of planetary science information, including satellite imagery, terrain information, and climate data. To visualize this data and make it accessible, in 2002 Hogan and

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Analyzers Measure Greenhouse Gasses, Airborne Pollutants

NASA Technology In complete darkness, a NASA observatory waits. When an eruption of boiling water billows from a nearby crack in the ground, the observatory’s sensors seek particles in the fluid, measure shifts in carbon isotopes, and analyze samples for biological signatures. NASA has landed the observatory in this remote location, far removed from air and sunlight,

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Remediation Technologies Eliminate Contaminants

NASA Technology All research and development has a story behind it, says Jacqueline Quinn, environmental engineer at Kennedy Space Center. For Quinn, one such story begins with the Saturn 1B launch stand at Kennedy and ends with a unique solution to a challenging environmental problem.

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Receivers Gather Data for Climate, Weather Prediction

NASA Technology Signals from global positioning system (GPS) satellites are now being used for more than just location and navigation information. By looking at the radio waves from GPS satellites, a technology developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) not only precisely calculates its position, but can also use a technique known as radio occultation to help

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Coating Processes Boost Performance of Solar Cells

NASA Technology NASA currently has spacecraft orbiting Mercury (MESSENGER), imaging the asteroid Vesta (Dawn), roaming the red plains of Mars (the Opportunity rover), and providing a laboratory for humans to advance scientific research in space (the International Space Station, or ISS). The heart of the technology that powers those missions and many others can be held in the

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Analyzers Provide Water Security in Space and on Earth

NASA Technology Resourcefulness is a key quality for living in space, and on the International Space Station (ISS), that means making the most of water supplies. In 2008, the installation of the Water Processing Assembly (WPA) onboard the ISS allowed the space station’s crew to do just that. The WPA purifies moisture from nearly every possible source—sweat,

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Catalyst Substrates Remove Contaminants, Produce Fuel

NASA Technology “A spacecraft is the ultimate tight building. We don’t want any leaks, and there is very little fresh air coming in,” says Jay Perry, an aerospace engineer at Marshall Space Flight Center. “As a result, there is a huge potential for a buildup of contaminants from a host of sources.”

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Rocket Engine Innovations Advance Clean Energy

NASA Technology During launch countdown, at approximately T-7 seconds, the Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs) roar to life. When the controllers indicate normal operation, the solid rocket boosters ignite and the shuttle blasts off. Initially, the SSMEs throttle down to reduce stress during the period of maximum dynamic pressure, but soon after, they throttle up to propel

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Star-Mapping Tools Enable Tracking of Endangered Animals

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution Try this: Print out a lower-case letter “o” in Times New Roman, 10-point font. Now hold the paper at arm’s length. Viewed from this distance, the area inside the “o” is approximately equal to the area observed in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, an image taken by the

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Modeling Innovations Advance Wind Energy Industry

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution One morning in 1990, a group of Glenn Research Center (then Lewis Research Center) employees arrived to find their workspace upended by an apparent hurricane. Papers were scattered, lights blown out. All eyes turned to the door connecting the office to its neighbor: a 20-foot wind tunnel.

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