The technologies NASA develops don’t just blast off into space. They also improve our lives here on Earth. Life-saving search-and-rescue tools, implantable medical devices, advances in commercial aircraft safety, increased accuracy in weather forecasting, and the miniature cameras in our cellphones are just some of the examples of NASA-developed technology used in products today.
This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. If you are interested in licensing the technologies described here, use the contact information provided. To learn about more available technologies, visit the NASA Technology Transfer Portal at http://technology.nasa.gov.
Improved Digital Map Rendering Method
Data adaptive algorithms developed by Armstrong Flight Research Center provide an extensive and highly efficient encoding process for global-scale digital terrain maps (DTMs), along with a real-time decoding process to locally render map data. These terrain-mapping algorithms are designed to be easily integrated into an aircraft’s existing onboard computing environment, or into an electronic flight bag (EFB) or mobile device application. In addition to its use within next-generation collision avoidance systems, the software can be adapted for use in aerospace satellites, automobiles, scientific research, marine charting systems, and medical devices.
Contact: Armstrong Technology Transfer Office
Gas Sensors and High-Temperature Pressure Sensors
Glenn Research Center developed advanced hydrogen and hydrocarbon gas sensors capable of detecting leaks, monitoring emissions, and providing in-situ measurements of gas composition and pressure. These compact, rugged sensors can be used to optimize combustion and lower emissions, and are designed to withstand harsh, high-temperature environments. Currently used to protect astronauts on the International Space Station, the hydrogen and leak detection sensors can function as a single- sensor unit or as part of a complete smart sensor system that includes multiple sensors, signal conditioning, power, and telemetry.
Contact: Glenn Technology Transfer Office
Lightweight Fuel Tank for Liquefied Natural Gas
Marshall Space Flight Center has developed a new composite vessel technology that is suitable for use as a liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel storage tank for alternative fuel vehicles. This technology uses an improved composite over-wrapped technology to produce a pressure vessel that is simple to use, robust, and capable of withstanding high pressures. It is based on the use of an aluminum tank liner, and contains NASA-developed insulation that consists of aerogels. These aerogels enable cryogenic fuels and other cryogenic fluids to be more effectively contained.