NASA Spinoff

Honored as an inductee of the U.S. Space Foundation's Space Technology Hall of Fame and recognized by the American Astronautical Society as “one of the true fathers of the space suit, Bill Elkins spent years conducting extensive research on clothing technology for hostile environments while he served as a NASA contractor at Ames Research Center. During the Apollo era, Elkins assisted Ames investigators in the development of a liquid-cooled garment to protect astronauts from extreme temperatures on the Moon. The garment successfully maintained the astronauts body temperatures at a comfortable level by utilizing a battery-powered mini-pump to circulate chilled water through a network of tubes lining the garment.

With the Vision for Space Exploration calling for a sustained human presence in space, astronauts will need to grow plants, while in orbit, for nourishment that they will not receive from only consuming dehydrated foods. As a potential source of food for long-duration missions, space-grown plants could also give astronauts an important psychological boost, as fresh vegetables could serve as a welcomed change from monotonous meals consisting of reconstituted foods in plastic bags. Even more, these plants could likely aid in the recycling of air and wastewater on spacecraft.

Who's to say that a little light can't go a long way? Tiny light-emitting diode (LED) chips used to grow plants in space are lighting the way for cancer treatment, wound healing, and chronic pain alleviation on Earth.

To work in NASA’s Mission Control Center and share in the excitement of seeing the very first close-up images of Saturn being piped back to Earth (from the Pioneer 11 spacecraft in 1979) is not a sensation that most high school students get to experience. However, as part of an internship in NASA’s Space Biology Program , Mary M. Yang had the opportunity to do just that.

By mid-1963, American astronauts had visited space on six different occasions, all as part of NASA’s first human space flight program, the Mercury Program . During the final Mercury mission, launched on May 15, 1963, astronaut Leroy Gordon Cooper logged 34 hours in orbit, the longest an American had spent in space to that point. Still, very little was known about the impact that space would have on humans and spacecraft that were subjected to long-duration missions. With this in mind, NASA decided to follow the Mercury Program with a new initiative called the Gemini Program.

From the football turf to high above the Earth, heat exhaustion is a life-threatening concern. Heat exhaustion, or hyperthermia, is an acute condition caused by excessive exposure to heat and dehydration. It occurs when the body can no longer dissipate heat adequately because of extreme environmental conditions or increased heat production from within. Heat exhaustion may progress to heatstroke when the body’s thermoregulatory mechanisms become overwhelmed and fail, ultimately leading to brain and organ damage or even death.

While most parents would agree that playing video games is the antithesis of time well spent for their children, recent advances involving NASA biofeedback technology are proving otherwise.

Twenty-six years ago, Adam Kissiah delivered a medical wonder to the world that has resulted in restored hearing for thousands of individuals, and allowed thousands of others born deaf to perceive sound for the very first time.

What employee never takes a vacation or a break, never calls in sick, works around the clock 365 days a year, has more than 3 million hours of experience, and is qualified to work in dietary services, radiology and medical record departments, pharmacies, central supply, and laboratories? The answer is a competent, cost-effective robotic courier that enables hospitals to redirect staff to more valuable roles.

Proteins are the chemical building blocks from which all human cells, organs, and tissues are made. They also serve as the hormones, enzymes, and antibodies that help the body fight off invading germs. Determining the structure of a protein enables medical researchers to create pharmaceuticals that will either help or prevent a protein from doing its job. Through a process known as structure-based drug design, researchers use the knowledge of a protein’s structure to develop new drugs to treat a variety of diseases. The predominate method of determining a protein’s structure is by X-ray crystallography, which involves growing protein crystals and exposing them to an X-ray beam to determine their atomic structure.


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