NASA Spinoff

Health and Medicine

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Rovers Pave the Way for Hospital Robots

NASA Technology

Before Curiosity came the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. Before Spirit and Opportunity came Pathfinder and Sojourner. Before Pathfinder and Sojourner, the Mars Global Surveyor, and before the Mars Global Surveyor, the Viking landers. Over the years,...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Dry Electrodes Facilitate Remote Health Monitoring

NASA Technology

You wouldn’t find a big bowl of spaghetti served on the International Space Station (ISS). In microgravity, it would be a complete mess. There is, however, something like spaghetti on the ISS: the wires that connect electrodes for an...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Telescope Innovations Improve Speed, Accuracy of Eye Surgery

NASA Technology

One of the main components of NASA’s vision for the future of space exploration will actually have a keen eye for the past. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), scheduled to launch in 2018, will have spectacular sight—after it reaches orbit,...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Superconductors Enable Lower Cost MRI Systems

NASA Technology

The future looks bright, light, and green—especially where aircraft are concerned. The division of NASA’s Fundamental Aeronautics Program called the Subsonic Fixed Wing Project is aiming to reach new heights by 2025–2035, improving the efficiency...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Bioreactors Drive Advances in Tissue Engineering

It was an unlikely moment for inspiration. Engineers David Wolf and Ray Schwarz stopped by their lab around midday. Wolf, of Johnson Space Center, and Schwarz, with NASA contractor Krug Life Sciences (now Wyle Laboratories Inc.), were part of a team tasked with developing a unique technology...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Tooling Techniques Enhance Medical Imaging

They can release as much energy as tens of billions of hydrogen bombs exploding at the same time. They send protons and electrons rocketing at near the speed of light. They heat gas in the Sun’s atmosphere to tens of millions of degrees Celsius. They send a blast of gas and particles toward...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Ventilator Technologies Sustain Critically Injured Patients

Consider this scenario: A soldier has been critically wounded in a sudden firefight in a remote region of Afghanistan. The soldier’s comrades attend to him and radio for help, but the soldier needs immediate medical expertise and treatment that is currently miles away.

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Protein Innovations Advance Drug Treatments, Skin Care

Dan Carter carefully layered the sheets of tracing paper on the light box. On each sheet were renderings of the atomic components of an essential human protein, one whose structure had long been a mystery. With each layer Carter laid down, a never-before-seen image became clearer.

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Mass Analyzers Facilitate Research on Addiction

The famous “go/no go” command for Space Shuttle launches comes from a place called the Firing Room. Located at Kennedy Space Center in the Launch Control Center (LCC), there are actually four Firing Rooms that take up most of the third floor of the LCC. These rooms comprise the nerve...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Frameworks Coordinate Scientific Data Management

Voyager 2 sailing beyond the far boundary of the solar system. The rover Opportunity churning across the red soil of Mars. Cassini-Huygens imaging the moons of Saturn. Capable of journeying well beyond the reach of human explorers, NASA’s robotic missions have probed the distant reaches...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Burnishing Techniques Strengthen Hip Implants

When compressed air mixes with jet fuel and is ignited in a turbine engine, the temperature can reach 3,000 °F. As a result of this fiery exhaust, the turbine spins and then forces the air through the back of the engine, and the jet moves forward. While extremely hot air assists in...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Signal Processing Methods Monitor Cranial Pressure

When you think of a beating heart, you might assume it beats at regular intervals, but in actuality, velocity and pressure change with every beat, and the time interval between each beat is different. Now a NASA-developed technology is helping researchers understand...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Ultraviolet-Blocking Lenses Protect, Enhance Vision

In the 1980s, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) scientists James Stephens and Charles Miller were studying the harmful properties of light in space, as well as that of artificial radiation produced during laser and welding work. The intense light emitted during welding...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Hyperspectral Systems Increase Imaging Capabilities

While the human eye can see a range of phenomena in the world, there is a larger range that it cannot see. Without the aid of technology, people are limited to seeing wavelengths of visible light, a tiny range within the electromagnetic spectrum. Hyperspectral imaging,...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Image-Capture Devices Extend Medicine’s Reach

In spring 2008, Dr. Scott Dulchavsky diagnosed high-altitude pulmonary edema in a climber over 20,000 feet up the slope of Mount Everest. Dulchavsky made the diagnosis from his office in Detroit, half a world away. The story behind this long-distance medical achievement begins with a seemingly...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Medical Devices Assess, Treat Balance Disorders

You may have heard the phrase “as difficult as walking and chewing gum” as a joking way of referring to something that is not difficult at all. Just walking, however, is not all that simple—physiologically speaking. Even standing upright is an undertaking requiring the complex cooperation of...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
NASA Bioreactors Advance Disease Treatments

The International Space Station (ISS) is falling. This is no threat to the astronauts onboard, however, because falling is part of the ISS staying in orbit.

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Robotics Algorithms Provide Nutritional Guidelines

On July 5, 1997, a small robot emerged from its lander like an insect from an egg, crawling out onto the rocky surface of Mars. About the size of a child’s wagon, NASA’s Sojourner robot was the first successful rover mission to the Red Planet. For 83 sols (Martian days, typically about...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
‘Anti-Gravity’ Treadmills Speed Rehabilitation

On Earth, gravity can cause a lot of stress to a person’s bones and muscles, whether the stress is caused by running a marathon or simply climbing a staircase. However, in space, the lack of gravity can also cause problems for astronauts’ bodies. NASA is seeking ways to combat these...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Crew Management Processes Revitalize Patient Care

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

In January 2009, birds struck the engines of US Airways Flight 1549 and forced an emergency landing into the Hudson River. Everyone on board survived, and the crew was lauded for remaining calm under pressure and keeping passengers safe. The pilot,...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Hubble Systems Optimize Busy Hospital Schedules

Beginning in 1985, a team of engineers at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore began developing software to manage various time-consuming tasks for the Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990. In the early phases of development, the complexity of scheduling different tasks...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Web-Based Programs Assess Cognitive Fitness

Astronauts, pilots, air traffic controllers, truck drivers, shift workers, and mountain climbers have something in common: All are at risk for impaired cognitive abilities due to stress or sleep deprivation. Whether in space or on Earth, stress and sleep loss can cause a reduction in certain...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Electrolyte Concentrates Treat Dehydration

For astronauts returning to Earth, adjusting to full gravity can be just as demanding as any of the challenges they faced in space. While readjusting to Earth’s gravitational pull, astronauts can experience difficulties moving and balancing, headaches, nausea, and even fainting spells.

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Magnetic Separator Enhances Treatment Possibilities

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Since the earliest missions in space, NASA specialists have performed experiments in low gravity. Protein crystal growth, cell and tissue cultures, and separation technologies such as electrophoresis and magnetophoresis have been studied on...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Periodontal Probe Improves Exams, Alleviates Pain

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

“Dentists,” comedian Bill Cosby memorably mused, “tell you not to pick your teeth with any sharp metal object. Then you sit in their chair, and the first thing they grab is an iron hook!” Conventional periodontal probing is indeed...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Photorefraction Screens Millions for Vision Disorders

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Who would have thought that stargazing in the 1980s would lead to hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren seeing more clearly today? Collaborating with research ophthalmologists and optometrists, Marshall Space Flight Center scientists Joe...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Robotic Joints Support Horses and Humans

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

A rehabilitative device first featured in Spinoff 2003 is not only helping human patients regain the ability to walk, but is now helping our four-legged friends as well. The late James Kerley, a prominent Goddard Space Flight Center researcher,...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Lockable Knee Brace Speeds Rehabilitation

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Marshall Space Flight Center develops key transportation and propulsion technologies for the Space Agency. The Center manages propulsion hardware and technologies of the space shuttle, develops the next generation of space transportation and...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
Polymer Coats Leads on Implantable Medical Device

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Langley Research Center’s Soluble Imide (LaRC-SI) was discovered by accident. While researching resins and adhesives for advanced composites for high-speed aircraft, Robert Bryant, a Langley engineer, noticed that one of the polymers he was...

Spinoff: Health and Medicine
LED Device Illuminates New Path to Healing

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Among NASA’s research goals is increased understanding of factors affecting plant growth, including the effects of microgravity. Impeding such studies, traditional light sources used to grow plants on Earth are difficult to adapt to space flight,...