Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Given the eye-catching nature of space shuttle launches, deep-space imagery, and Mars exploration, it can be easy to forget NASA’s aeronautics efforts, which have a daily impact on life within the bounds of Earth’s atmosphere. Virtually...

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Imagine you are about to be dropped in the middle of a remote, inhospitable region—say the Kalahari Desert. What would you want to have with you on your journey back to civilization? Food and water, of course, but you can only carry so much. A truck...

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Here on Earth, if your sink springs a leak, you can call in a plumber, or if you’re handy, you can head out to the local hardware store, buy a few replacement parts, and fix the problem yourself. If the leak isn’t particularly bad, you can...

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

In the late 1970s, general aviation (GA) in the United States was experiencing its heyday. In 1978, as many as 18,000 GA aircraft were produced. But only 15 years later, the industry was on the verge of collapse, with fewer than 1,000...

Kennedy Space Center’s launch complexes have seen a lot. They have been the starting point for every manned NASA mission, from Mercury to Gemini, through Apollo, and are now seeing the space shuttle through its final launches. Kennedy, part of the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, is also home to over...

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Dr. Dennis Morrison, a former scientist at Johnson Space Center, spent part of his 34-year career with NASA performing research on nanomaterials—materials 10,000 times smaller than a human hair. Specifically, Morrison’s research on nanoceramic...

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

From the myth of Icarus, who flew too close to the Sun on wings made of wax, to the designs Leonardo da Vinci drew of flying machines that mirrored the wing patterns of birds, people have always dreamed of personal flight. In 1903, on a cold...

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Anyone who has made a paper airplane knows that folding the wingtips upward makes your plane look better and fly farther, though the reasons for the latter might be a mystery. The next time you snag a window seat on an airline flight, check out the...

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Given the size of our planet and its wealth of resources, it is easy to forget that those resources are finite. As Earth’s human population continues to grow, the questions of how to effectively limit and recycle waste, avoid environmental...

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

The next time you blow out a candle, watch how the smoke behaves. You will see that it rises first in an even stream. At a certain point, that stream begins to break up into swirls and eddies as the smoke disperses.

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Every time a jet engine is started, it goes through a thermal cycle of extreme temperatures, reaching as high as 2,700 °F within the engine’s combustor. Over time, the expansion and contraction of engine parts caused by this cycle lead to...

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

In the course of time, circumstance, and coincidence, life sometimes completes some ironic and unlikely circles. During NASA’s early space exploration, a deceptively simple concept allowed scientists and engineers to manage thermal gain. They used...

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

One of the greatest dangers to aircraft—playing a role in numerous destructive and fatal accidents around the world—comes in the form of droplets of water. Clouds are made up of tiny water particles with diameters typically between 10 and 50...

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Even though it drops to -279 °F at night and dips to -400 °F inside its deepest craters, the Moon can reach a scorching 260 °F during the day. The range of temperatures is extreme—in part because there is no substantial atmosphere on the...

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

One of the more remarkable developments in aviation in recent years has been the increasing deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs. Since the invention of the first UAV in 1916, these remotely—or sometimes...

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

When Boris Popov was 8 years old, he took one of his mother’s sheets and some thread, made a parachute, climbed a tree, and jumped. The homemade chute did little to break Popov’s fall; his father took the disappointed boy aside and said, “Son,...

Greek mythology tells of the inventor Daedalus using wings of his own fashioning to escape from imprisonment on the island of Crete. In 1988, a similar adventure was launched, though in this case carbon-fiber composites, gears, and driveshafts featured instead of wax and feathers.

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Space exploration requires reliable and efficient communication technology. One device currently under development is the inflatable antenna. Due to several unique characteristics—it is lightweight, easy to deploy, inexpensive, and requires low...

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

The materials used to make airplanes and space shuttles do not last forever. That is why NASA frequently inspects launch vehicles, fuel tanks, crew habitats, and other components for structural damage. The timely and accurate detection of cracks or other...

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Smaller, with enhanced capabilities. Less expensive, while providing improved performance. Energy efficient, without sacrificing capabilities. Smaller, less expensive, and energy efficient—but still highly durable under some of the most...

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

On January 16, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia launched on mission STS-107. At T plus 82 seconds, with the orbiter rocketing upwards at 1,870 miles per hour, a briefcase-sized chunk of insulating foam broke off from the external fuel tank and...

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

As the launch clock counts down, astronauts in the space shuttle prepare for the fastest ride of their lives. More powerful than any plane, train, or automobile, NASA space shuttles boast the world’s most sophisticated rocket engines: three...

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Knowing what will happen before it happens is no easy task. That is why new spacecraft and technology are constantly being tested and refined—including the J-2X engine, which may power the upper stage of future NASA rockets. Data from tests like...

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Much is made of the engineering that enables the complex operations of a rover examining the surface of Mars—and rightly so. But even the most advanced robotics are useless if, when the rover rolls out onto the Martian soil, a software glitch...

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Monitoring the health of a machine can be just as tricky as monitoring the health of a human. Like in the human body, a variety of subsystems must work together for a machine to function properly—and a problem in one area can affect the well-being of...

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

For the last 25 years, the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Division at Ames esearch Center has provided extremely fast supercomputing resources, not only for NASA missions, but for scientific discoveries made outside of NASA as well. The computing...

Using the Spitzer Space telescope, NASA scientists detected light from two Jupiter-sized extrasolar planets for the first time in 2005. Findings like these are enabled in part by the Science Mission Directorate at NASA, which conducts scientific research enabled by access to...

To better understand and predict global climate, scientists look to the Earth’s oceans. Natural forces like wind, storms, and heat affect ocean surface and sea level, and these changes can shed light on short- and long-term global climate patterns.

On May 20, 1996, astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor watched as a unique structure unfolded in space like a complex trick of origami. From the free-flying Spartan satellite the STS-77 crew had released from the shuttle’s cargo hold, a massive circular...

Getting to the Moon is, to say the least, challenging. Being on the Moon, though, is no picnic either. In addition to the obvious life support and temperature control concerns, astronauts must contend with another obstacle: the Moon’s surface. This surface is covered with...