NASA Technology

When NASA designs a spacecraft to undertake a new mission, innovation does not stop after the design phase. In many cases, these spacecraft are firsts of their kind, requiring not only remarkable imagination and expertise in their conception but new technologies and methods...

Health and Medicine

Burnishing Techniques Strengthen Hip Implants Signal Processing Methods Monitor Cranial Pressure Ultraviolet-Blocking Lenses Protect, Enhance Vision Hyperspectral Systems Increase Imaging Capabilities

Transportation

Programs Model the Future of Air Traffic Management Tail Rotor Airfoils...

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...

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...

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.

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.

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...

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...

After 10 months of traveling through deep space to Mars, the Phoenix Lander finally approached its destination. The last 7 minutes of the spacecraft’s 423 million-mile-journey—the entry, descent, and landing (EDL) phase—were the most critical and also the most difficult. In the history...

As NASA designs new spacecraft for its science missions and begins designs for the next generation of human spaceflight vehicles, it also works to revolutionize Earth’s airspace with safer, more efficient air vehicles. Throughout its research and development activities, NASA employs the best...

Heinz Erzberger never thought the sky was falling, but he knew it could benefit from enhanced traffic control. Throughout the 1990s, Erzberger led a team at Ames Research Center to develop a suite of automated tools to reduce restrictions and improve the efficiency of air traffic control...

“Flutter” may sound like a benign word when associated with a flag in a breeze, a butterfly, or seaweed in an ocean current. When used in the context of aerodynamics, however, it describes a highly dangerous, potentially deadly condition.

In 1961, not long after NASA received the imperative from President John F. Kennedy to land a man on the Moon within the decade, then-NASA administrator James Webb posed a question to Charles Stark “Doc” Draper, head of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)...

Kennedy Space Center is not only home to one of the largest buildings in the world—the massive Vehicle Assembly Building—it also hosts a number of one-of-a-kind facilities. The more than 30-mile-long campus has witnessed every launch from the Space Shuttle Launch Pad, as well as many...

Here’s a simple science experiment to try: Place an unopened bottle of distilled water in your freezer. After 2–3 hours, if the water is pure enough, you will notice that it has not frozen. Carefully pour the water into a bowl with a piece of ice in it. When it strikes the ice, the...

The rescue crews have been searching for the woman for nearly a week. Hurricane Katrina devastated Hancock County, the southernmost point in Mississippi, and the woman had stayed through the storm in her beach house. There is little hope of finding her alive; the search teams know she is...

Spanning nearly four decades, the remarkable Landsat program has continuously provided data about the Earth’s surface, including detailed maps of vegetation, land use, forest extent and health, surface water, population distribution, as well as how these features have changed over time....

Much deserved attention is given to the feats of innovation that allow humans to live in space and robotic explorers to beam never-before- seen images back to Earth. In the background of these accomplishments is a technology that makes it all possible—the rockets that propel NASA’s space...

NASA Technology

The Partnership for Next Generation Vehicles (PNGV) is not a NASA initiative to develop powerful new rockets and spacecraft, even though it may sound like one. PNGV was a partnership established by the Clinton administration between the Federal government and the U.S....

NASA Technology

On March 29, 2011, NASA’s Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft beamed a milestone image to Earth: the first photo of...

Even under the most unfortunate circumstances, NASA continues on a path of innovation. After the Space Shuttle Columbia reentered the atmosphere on February 1, 2003, it experienced a catastrophic failure, and the entire crew and vehicle were lost. For the two weeks prior to the...

Successful space missions can rarely be attributed to a single thing. Rather, they are the result of a system of systems: integrated elements functioning effectively in their individual roles and together with related components, then those systems interacting with and supporting other systems...

Fast forward to 2035. Imagine being part of a community of astronauts living and working on the Moon. Suddenly, in the middle of just another day in space, a meteorite crashes into the surface of the Moon, threatening life as you know it. The support equipment that provides oxygen for the entire...

Have you ever felt nauseous reading a book in the back seat of a car? Or woken from a deep sleep feeling disoriented, unsure which way is up? Momentary mixups like these happen when the sensory systems that track the body’s orientation in space become confused. (In the case of the...

As the International Space Station (ISS) travels 17,500 miles per hour, normal is having a constant sensation of free-falling. Normal is no rain, but an extreme amount of shine—with temperatures reaching 250 ˚F when facing the Sun. Thanks to a number of advanced control systems...

“Who has more satellite data than NASA?” asks Patrick Hogan.

The question is a rhetorical one. After dozens of Earth-observing satellite launches and missions to other planets, NASA has accumulated an unmatched amount of planetary science information, including satellite imagery,...

NASA Technology

In complete darkness, a NASA observatory waits. When an eruption of boiling water billows from a nearby crack in the ground, the observatory’s sensors seek particles in the fluid, measure shifts in carbon isotopes, and analyze samples for biological...

NASA Technology

All research and development has a story behind it, says Jacqueline Quinn, environmental engineer at Kennedy Space Center. For Quinn, one such story begins with the Saturn 1B launch stand at Kennedy and ends with a unique solution to a challenging environmental...

NASA Technology

Signals from global positioning system (GPS) satellites are now being used for more than just location and navigation information. By looking at the radio waves from GPS satellites, a technology developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) not...

NASA Technology

NASA currently has spacecraft orbiting Mercury (MESSENGER), imaging the asteroid Vesta (Dawn), roaming the red plains of Mars (the Opportunity rover), and providing a laboratory for humans to advance scientific research in space (the International Space...