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 .
Variable Power Handheld Laser Torch
Marshall Space Flight Center developed the handheld laser torch for welding and brazing metals in hard-to-reach spaces. Manual controls allow the operator to adjust the laser’s power output in real time. The controls and lenses are designed to increase precision, portability, and maneuverability as compared to existing automated lasers and traditional welding techniques. Proximity sensors with automated shutoff switches also ensure a high level of safety for the user. The laser torch and hardware are nearly half the size of traditional welding systems.
Contact: Marshall Space Flight Center
Technology Transfer Office
Wireless Temperature Sensor With No Electrical Connections
Langley Research Center has developed a robust, wireless temperature sensor that does not require an electrical connection. The temperature sensor is built on NASA’s SansEC sensor platform that takes advantage of measuring dielectric changes. The temperature sensor is damage- tolerant, wireless, flexible, precise, and inexpensive. This sensor is made up of dielectric materials tuned to accurately measure a variable and wide range of temperatures. The sensor is powered by an external magnetic field. One promising application is for tire temperature sensors.
Contact: Langley Research Center
Freeze-Resistant Hydration System
Designed for rugged, cold, and high-altitude conditions, a freeze-resistant hydration system was developed by Johnson Space Center. The technology prevents water from freezing in the tubing, container, and mouthpiece, even in the harshest conditions. The system incorporates aerogel insulation on the outside and around the drinking straw. The container is placed within an inner layer of clothing, and the insulated straw is pulled out from underneath the suit. A braided copper wire and another heat-collecting surface transfer body heat to the fluid reservoir and straw during use. A microcontroller and tape heater powered by a battery keep the straw warm and free of ice crystals.