NASA Spinoff

NASA missions are extremely complex and prone to sudden, catastrophic failure if equipment falters or if an unforeseen event occurs. For these reasons, NASA trains to expect the unexpected. It tests its equipment and systems in extreme conditions, and it develops risk-analysis tests to foresee any possible problems.

Preparing a vehicle and its payload for a single launch is a complex process that involves thousands of operations. Because the equipment and facilities required to carry out these operations are extremely expensive and limited in number, optimal assignment and efficient use are critically important. Overlapping missions that compete for the same resources, ground rules, safety requirements, and the unique needs of processing vehicles and payloads destined for space impose numerous constraints that, when combined, require advanced scheduling.

NASA's Metrics Data Program Data Repository is a database that stores problem, product, and metrics data. The primary goal of this data repository is to provide project data to the software community. In doing so, the Metrics Data Program collects artifacts from a large NASA dataset, generates metrics on the artifacts, and then generates reports that are made available to the public at no cost. The data that are made available to general users have been sanitized and authorized for publication through the Metrics Data Program Web site by officials representing the projects from which the data originated.

NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) acquires, archives, and manages data from all of NASA’s Earth science satellites, for the benefit of the Space Agency and for the benefit of others, including local governments, first responders, the commercial remote sensing industry, teachers, museums, and the general public. EOSDIS is currently handling an extraordinary amount of NASA scientific data. To give an idea of the volume of information it receives, NASA’s Terra Earth-observing satellite, just one of many NASA satellites sending down data, sends it hundreds of gigabytes a day, almost as much data as the Hubble Space Telescope acquires in an entire year, or about equal to the amount of information that could be found in hundreds of pickup trucks filled with books.

NASA Technology

An inch can make a world of difference. Which is why Garrett Finney moved the office coffee-maker into the full-size, cardboard mockup of the new trailer he was designing. The need for caffeine—and the threat of hot coffee accidentally dumped on a coworker—provided motivation and means for assessing the feasibility of a confined living space.

NASA Technology

The craftsmen in the Roman Empire who constructed the Lycurgus Cup 17 centuries ago probably didn’t think their artifact would survive for nearly 2,000 years as a prized possession. And they certainly couldn’t have known that the technology they used to make it would eventually become an important part of space exploration.

NASA Technology

“Life’s too short to wear average underwear,” says Mo Moorman, the director of public relations at Jockey International. By “average underwear,” Moorman means underwear without NASA technology in it.

NASA Technology

NASA’s twin Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, remain one of the Agency’s greatest achievements in exploration. On Earth, these robots are best known for their stunning pictures of the Martian landscape—images that, in addition to providing invaluable scientific data, have also given ordinary people an unprecedented look at the Red Planet.

NASA Technology

In June 2009, NASA launched Terra, the flagship of NASA’s Earth Observing System, which studies a sweeping set of the planet’s characteristics. Included in the satellite is the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER). ASTER is a cooperative effort between NASA and Japan’s Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, with the collaboration of scientific and industry organizations in both countries. The instrument provides the next generation in remote sensing imaging capabilities when compared to the older Landsat Thematic Mapper and Japan’s JERS-1 OPS scanner.

NASA Technology

What do you think the paper or computer screen you are looking at is made of? Are the shoes you are wearing really made of leather? Is the table nearby made of wood? How can you be sure? For most people, these questions may sound like useless speculation, because they are largely inconsequential to daily life. But knowing the precise chemical makeup of spacecraft components is a crucial part of quality control and can help ensure a successful mission. And learning that the paint on a canvass was produced using modern materials could be what prevents a museum from spending $10 million on a forgery.

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