At Glenn Research Center’s Ballistic Impact Facility, engineers study new materials and the ways that they react to sudden, brute force. Using high-speed cameras, various sizes of gas-powered guns, and a variety of other tools, these engineers learn about impacts, ways...

In late 2009, a rocket traveling twice as fast as a speeding bullet crashed into the Moon as part of NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission. The resulting impact loosened a mixture of particles, dust, and debris that was analyzed by a ...

In March of 2009, the Kepler spacecraft was launched to explore the structure and diversity of planetary systems outside of our own solar system, with a special emphasis on the detection of Earth-sized planets. Once Kepler fulfills its mission, the SIM Lite spacecraft will...

The amount of detail a telescope can see is directly related to the size of its mirrors. To look deep into space at galaxies over 13 billion light years away, NASA requires telescopes with very large mirrors. Scheduled to launch in 2014, the James Webb Space Telescope...

People often think of NASA’s research as pushing the boundaries of our universe—sending people, robots, and spacecraft into the dark reaches of the sky. But as NASA studies the universe, one of the most important planets it explores is Earth. Through a series of...

Since the early days of space flight, fuel cells have provided an important source of power for extended missions to space. Aboard the space shuttle, three fuel cell power plants generate all of the electrical power from launch through landing.

It was one of the few times that a crash landing would be deemed a success. On October 9, 2009, nine sensor instruments—including five cameras—onboard the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) watched closely as the Moon-bound spacecraft...

While President Obama’s news that NASA would encourage private companies to develop vehicles to take NASA into space may have come as a surprise to some, NASA has always encouraged private companies to invest in space. More than two decades ago, NASA established...

That space is a hazardous environment for humans is common knowledge. Even beyond the obvious lack of air and gravity, the extreme temperatures and exposure to radiation make the human exploration of space a complicated and risky endeavor. The conditions of space and the space...

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...

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...

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.

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...

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...

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,...

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...

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...

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.

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

While working on designs for a new high-speed aircraft, a group of software engineers at NASA’s Langley Research Center developed a program that helps create lighter weight vehicles, while still maintaining strength and structural integrity....

Researchers at the Advanced Materials and Processing Branch at Langley Research Center created a superior polyimide foam as insulation for reusable cryogenic propellant tanks on the space shuttle. At the time, the foam insulation on the tanks had a limited lifetime: one launch, which did not suit...

Spacecraft and aerospace engines share a common threat: high temperature. The temperatures experienced during atmospheric reentry can reach over 2,000 °F, and the temperatures in rocket engines can reach well over 5,000 °F.

While many air travelers are accustomed to rules against electronic devices during takeoff and landing, they might not be aware that these devices are banned because they can cause electromagnetic interference (EMI) with navigation equipment. Because similar problems can occur near launch sites for space...

As part of its research to make air travel safer, NASA began collaborating with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2005 to develop what are now called surface traffic management systems (STMS). Both agencies have expressed a need to gather and organize data on airport surface...

A small pile of PETI-330 resinous powder PETI-330 is the first resin created specifically for high-temperature composites formed with resin transfer molding and resin infusion. Offering processability, toughness, and high-temperature performance, the resin has a low-melt viscosity and, when...

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there are between 4 and 11 million cases of acute gastrointestinal illnesses in the United States each year—caused by pathogens in public drinking water. The bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Salmonella have within the...

NASA intends to return people to the Moon, but this time to stay. Future plans include living quarters, scientific laboratories, a permanent lunar community, and a training ground for a future mission to Mars. Ahead of these first 21st century boots on the Moon, though, the Space Agency needs to make...

The space shuttle is unique among spacecraft in that it glides back to Earth and lands like an airplane, usually touching ground near where it launched at Kennedy Space Center, but sometimes, in poor weather, gliding into the back-up landing site at Dryden Flight Research Center and then...

Since its founding in 1958, NASA has pioneered the use of different frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum—including X-ray, microwave, and infrared wavelengths—to gather information about distant celestial bodies. During the 1962 Mariner 2 mission, NASA used microwave...

Special textiles have been mission-critical components for successful space missions since the early years of NASA’s first parachutes and space suits in the late 1950s. One of the Agency’s more recognizable uses for textiles, the Mars Pathfinder airbags, provided a cushioned,...

Sport fishing is an uncertain pastime. Some days the fish are biting; others, not. But for captains of charter fishing boats and recreational fishermen making the most of a day off from work, returning without a catch is more than just a disappointment—it can have a financial impact as well, from...