NASA Spinoff

Tools Automate Spacecraft Testing, Operation

Using the Spitzer Space telescope, NASA scientists detected light from two Jupiter-sized extrasolar planets for the first time in 2005. Findings like these are enabled in part by the Science Mission Directorate at NASA, which conducts scientific research enabled by access to space—such as Earth science, planetary science, heliophysics


GPS Software Packages Deliver Positioning Solutions

To better understand and predict global climate, scientists look to the Earth’s oceans. Natural forces like wind, storms, and heat affect ocean surface and sea level, and these changes can shed light on short- and long-term global climate patterns.


Solid-State Recorders Enhance Scientific Data Collection

On May 20, 1996, astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor watched as a unique structure unfolded in space like a complex trick of origami. From the free-flying Spartan satellite the STS-77 crew had released from the shuttle’s cargo hold, a massive circular antenna inflated into shape. About the size


Computer Models Simulate Fine Particle Dispersion

Getting to the Moon is, to say the least, challenging. Being on the Moon, though, is no picnic either. In addition to the obvious life support and temperature control concerns, astronauts must contend with another obstacle: the Moon’s surface. This surface is covered with sharp, abrasive dust, lunar soil,


Telemetry Boards Interpret Rocket, Airplane Engine Data

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution For all the data gathered by the space shuttle while in orbit, NASA engineers are just as concerned about the information it generates on the ground. From the moment the shuttle’s wheels touch the runway to the break of its electrical umbilical cord at 0.4 seconds before its


Programs Automate Complex Operations Monitoring

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution Kennedy Space Center, just off the east coast of Florida on Merritt Island, has been the starting place of every human space flight in NASA’s history. It is where the first Americans left Earth during Project Mercury, the terrestrial departure point of the lunar-bound Apollo astronauts, as well


Software Tools Streamline Project Management

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution Three innovative software inventions from Ames Research Center (NETMARK, Program Management Tool, and Query-Based Document Management) are finding their way into NASA missions as well as industry applications.


Modeling Languages Refine Vehicle Design

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution When we watch a space shuttle launch on television, we have only the vaguest sense of the extraordinary amount of work required to make such a complex operation successful. Even with the most highly trained engineers in the world, designing a space vehicle requires many thousands of hours


Radio Relays Improve Wireless Products

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution In order to transmit communications through Earth’s atmosphere, satellites and space vehicles need radio equipment that can operate at higher frequencies than on Earth. These higher frequencies, until recently, have demanded mechanical switches in radio relays. Unfortunately, the mechanical switches had some problems with frequency routing, which inspired


Integrated Circuit Chip Improves Network Efficiency

Originating Technology/NASA ContributionPrior to 1999 and the development of SpaceWire, a standard for high-speed links for computer networks managed by the European Space Agency (ESA), there was no high-speed communications protocol for flight electronics. Onboard computers, processing units, and other electronics had to be designed for individual projects and then