NASA Spinoff

Advanced Sensors Boost Optical Communication, Imaging

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution In 1992, on a gravity assist flyby of Earth that would help propel it along its mission to Jupiter, NASA’s Galileo probe detected a line of light pulses emerging from Earth’s night-darkened hemisphere. Over the next few days, Galileo’s camera imaged similar signals—even though the probe was hurtling


Tensile Fabrics Enhance Architecture Around the World

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution On a Friday night in March 2008, fans at a college basketball game at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome noticed the stadium’s scoreboard begin to sway. Outside, winds howled through the city. Unknown to those in the stadium, a tornado was ripping through downtown. The safety of the more than


Thermoelectric Devices Cool, Power Electronics

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution More than 10 billion miles away from Earth, a NASA spacecraft continues a journey that began in 1977. Having long since accomplished its original mission to Jupiter and Saturn, Voyager 1 is the farthest human-made object from Earth, hurtling at more than 38,000 miles per hour toward the


Robust Light Filters Support Powerful Imaging Devices

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution Consider the anatomy of a rainbow: From the inner arch, violet shifts to blue, then green, yellow, and red. Contained in the rainbow is the spectrum of light that our eyes take in and translate into images of the world around us. But the human eye only registers


Innovative Tools Advance Revolutionary Weld Technique

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution The iconic, orange external tank of the space shuttle launch system not only contains the fuel used by the shuttle’s main engines during liftoff but also comprises the shuttle’s “backbone,” supporting the space shuttle orbiter and solid rocket boosters. Given the tank’s structural importance and the extreme forces


Methods Reduce Cost, Enhance Quality of Nanotubes

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution For all the challenges posed by the microgravity conditions of space, weight is actually one of the more significant problems NASA faces in the development of the next generation of U.S. space vehicles. For the Agency’s Constellation Program, engineers at NASA centers are designing and testing new vessels


Gauging Systems Monitor Cryogenic Liquids

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution Rocket fuel needs to stay cool—super cool, in fact. The ability to store gas propellants like liquid hydrogen and oxygen at cryogenic temperatures (below -243 °F) is crucial for space missions in order to reduce their volumes and allow their storage in smaller (and therefore, less costly) tanks.


Voltage Sensors Monitor Harmful Static

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution Anyone who has ever experienced an unpleasant jolt from a doorknob after shuffling across the carpet on a dry morning knows that static electricity—also known as triboelectric charging—can be a nuisance. However, many computer enthusiasts are too familiar with how built-up triboelectricity can actually cause major problems when


Compact Instruments Measure Heat Potential

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution Without the insulating protection of Earth’s atmosphere, orbiting space shuttles, space stations, and satellites are subject to thermal damage from radiation. This damage varies with different orbital parameters, solar activity, and the vehicle’s angle to the Sun, so these external surfaces must be designed to resist degradation and


NASA Innovation Builds Better Nanotubes

Originating Technology/NASA ContributionOne of the basic nanotechnology structures, the carbon nanotube, is a graphite sheet one atomic layer thick that is wrapped on itself to create an extraordinarily thin, strong tube. Although carbon nanotubes were discovered more than 15 years ago, their use has been limited due to the complex,