Spinoff: Environmental and Agricultural Resources
Modeling Innovations Advance Wind Energy Industry

One morning in 1990, a group of Glenn Research Center (then Lewis Research Center) employees arrived to find their workspace upended by an apparent hurricane. Papers were scattered, lights blown out. All eyes turned to the door connecting the office to its neighbor: a 20-foot wind...

Spinoff: Environmental and Agricultural Resources
Nanofiber Filters Eliminate Contaminants

Water, an increasingly precious commodity on Earth, has always been priceless in space; but “priceless” is a figure of speech—water in space does have a price, and it is an expensive one. A single gallon of water costs over $83,000 to launch just into low-Earth orbit. Despite recent NASA...

Spinoff: Environmental and Agricultural Resources
Thermal Insulation Strips Conserve Energy

Launching the space shuttle involves an interesting paradox: While the temperatures inside the shuttle’s main engines climb higher than 6,000 °F— hot enough to boil iron—for fuel, the engines use liquid hydrogen, the second coldest liquid on Earth after liquid helium.

Spinoff: Environmental and Agricultural Resources
Satellite-Respondent Buoys Identify Ocean Debris

NASA operates a series of Earth-observing satellites, which help scientists learn more about our home planet. Through partnerships with universities and other government agencies, like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Space Agency helps scientists around the...

Spinoff: Environmental and Agricultural Resources
Mobile Instruments Measure Atmospheric Pollutants

As a part of NASA’s active research of the Earth’s atmosphere, which has included missions such as the Atmospheric Laboratory of Applications and Science (ATLAS, launched in 1992) and the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS, launched on the Earth Probe satellite in 1996), the...

Spinoff: Environmental and Agricultural Resources
Cloud Imagers Offer New Details on Earth’s Health

A stunning red sunset or purple sunrise is an aesthetic treat with a scientific explanation: The colors are a direct result of the absorption or reflectance of solar radiation by atmospheric aerosols, minute particles (either solid or liquid) in the Earth’s atmosphere that occur both...

Spinoff: Environmental and Agricultural Resources
Antennas Lower Cost of Satellite Access

Whether for scientific inquiry, weather forecasting, or public safety, the world relies upon the data gathered by satellite remote sensing. Some of NASA’s most valuable work is in its remote sensing capabilities—the ability to retrieve data acquired at great distances—affording a height and scope...

Spinoff: Environmental and Agricultural Resources
Feature Detection Systems Enhance Satellite Imagery

In 1963, during the ninth orbit of the Faith 7 capsule, astronaut Gordon Cooper skipped his nap and took some photos of the Earth below using a Hasselblad camera. The sole flier on the Mercury-Atlas 9 mission, Cooper took 24 photos—never-before-seen images including the Tibetan plateau,...

Spinoff: Environmental and Agricultural Resources
Chlorophyll Meters Aid Plant Nutrient Management

On December 7, 1972, roughly 5 hours and 6 minutes after launch, the crew of Apollo 17 took one of history’s most famous photographs. The brilliant image of the fully illuminated Earth, the African and Antarctic continents peering out from behind swirling clouds, came to be known as the...

Spinoff: Computer Technology
Telemetry Boards Interpret Rocket, Airplane Engine Data

For all the data gathered by the space shuttle while in orbit, NASA engineers are just as concerned about the information it generates on the ground. From the moment the shuttle’s wheels touch the runway to the break of its electrical umbilical cord at 0.4 seconds before its next...

Spinoff: Computer Technology
Programs Automate Complex Operations Monitoring

Kennedy Space Center, just off the east coast of Florida on Merritt Island, has been the starting place of every human space flight in NASA’s history. It is where the first Americans left Earth during Project Mercury, the terrestrial departure point of the lunar-bound Apollo astronauts, as...

Spinoff: Computer Technology
Software Tools Streamline Project Management

Three innovative software inventions from Ames Research Center (NETMARK, Program Management Tool, and Query-Based Document Management) are finding their way into NASA missions as well as industry applications.

Spinoff: Computer Technology
Modeling Languages Refine Vehicle Design

When we watch a space shuttle launch on television, we have only the vaguest sense of the extraordinary amount of work required to make such a complex operation successful. Even with the most highly trained engineers in the world, designing a space vehicle requires many thousands of hours of...

Spinoff: Computer Technology
Radio Relays Improve Wireless Products

In order to transmit communications through Earth’s atmosphere, satellites and space vehicles need radio equipment that can operate at higher frequencies than on Earth. These higher frequencies, until recently, have demanded mechanical switches in radio relays. Unfortunately, the mechanical switches...

Spinoff: Industrial Productivity & Manufacturing Technology
Advanced Sensors Boost Optical Communication, Imaging

In 1992, on a gravity assist flyby of Earth that would help propel it along its mission to Jupiter, NASA’s Galileo probe detected a line of light pulses emerging from Earth’s night-darkened hemisphere. Over the next few days, Galileo’s camera imaged similar signals—even though the...

Spinoff: Industrial Productivity & Manufacturing Technology
Tensile Fabrics Enhance Architecture Around the World

On a Friday night in March 2008, fans at a college basketball game at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome noticed the stadium’s scoreboard begin to sway. Outside, winds howled through the city. Unknown to those in the stadium, a tornado was ripping through downtown. The safety of the more than...

Spinoff: Industrial Productivity & Manufacturing Technology
Thermoelectric Devices Cool, Power Electronics

More than 10 billion miles away from Earth, a NASA spacecraft continues a journey that began in 1977. Having long since accomplished its original mission to Jupiter and Saturn, Voyager 1 is the farthest human-made object from Earth, hurtling at more than 38,000 miles per hour toward the...

Spinoff: Industrial Productivity & Manufacturing Technology
Robust Light Filters Support Powerful Imaging Devices

Consider the anatomy of a rainbow: From the inner arch, violet shifts to blue, then green, yellow, and red. Contained in the rainbow is the spectrum of light that our eyes take in and translate into images of the world around us. But the human eye only registers a minute percentage of the...

Spinoff: Industrial Productivity & Manufacturing Technology
Innovative Tools Advance Revolutionary Weld Technique

The iconic, orange external tank of the space shuttle launch system not only contains the fuel used by the shuttle’s main engines during liftoff but also comprises the shuttle’s “backbone,” supporting the space shuttle orbiter and solid rocket boosters. Given the tank’s...

Spinoff: Industrial Productivity & Manufacturing Technology
Methods Reduce Cost, Enhance Quality of Nanotubes

For all the challenges posed by the microgravity conditions of space, weight is actually one of the more significant problems NASA faces in the development of the next generation of U.S. space vehicles. For the Agency’s Constellation Program, engineers at NASA centers are designing and...

Spinoff: Industrial Productivity & Manufacturing Technology
Gauging Systems Monitor Cryogenic Liquids

Rocket fuel needs to stay cool—super cool, in fact. The ability to store gas propellants like liquid hydrogen and oxygen at cryogenic temperatures (below -243 °F) is crucial for space missions in order to reduce their volumes and allow their storage in smaller (and therefore, less costly) tanks....

Spinoff: Industrial Productivity & Manufacturing Technology
Voltage Sensors Monitor Harmful Static

Anyone who has ever experienced an unpleasant jolt from a doorknob after shuffling across the carpet on a dry morning knows that static electricity—also known as triboelectric charging—can be a nuisance. However, many computer enthusiasts are too familiar with how built-up triboelectricity can...

Spinoff: Industrial Productivity & Manufacturing Technology
Compact Instruments Measure Heat Potential

Without the insulating protection of Earth’s atmosphere, orbiting space shuttles, space stations, and satellites are subject to thermal damage from radiation. This damage varies with different orbital parameters, solar activity, and the vehicle’s angle to the Sun, so these external surfaces...

Spinoff: Computer Technology
Program Assists Satellite Designers

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Managed by Goddard Space Flight Center, the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) was launched on December 30, 1995, from Kennedy Space Center, and to this day, it is still active. The satellite carries several instruments and is part of the...

Spinoff: Computer Technology
Water-Based Coating Simplifies Circuit Board Manufacturing

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

The Structures and Materials Division at Glenn Research Center is devoted to developing advanced, high-temperature materials and processes for future aerospace propulsion and power generation systems. The Polymers Branch...

Spinoff: Computer Technology
Software Schedules Missions, Aids Project Management

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

NASA missions require advanced planning, scheduling, and management, and the Space Agency has worked extensively to develop the programs and software suites necessary to facilitate these complex missions. These enormously...

Spinoff: Computer Technology
Software Analyzes Complex Systems in Real Time

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Expert system software programs, also known as knowledge-based systems, are computer programs that emulate the knowledge and analytical skills of one or more human experts, related to a specific subject. SHINE (Spacecraft Health...

Spinoff: Computer Technology
Wireless Sensor Network Handles Image Data

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

To relay data from remote locations for NASA’s Earth sciences research, Goddard Space Flight Center contributed to the development of “microservers” (wireless sensor network nodes), which are now used commercially as a quick and...

Spinoff: Computer Technology
Virtual Reality System Offers a Wide Perspective

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Robot Systems Technology Branch engineers at Johnson Space Center created the remotely controlled Robonaut for use as an additional “set of hands” in extravehicular activities (EVAs) and to allow exploration of environments that...

Spinoff: Computer Technology
Software Simulates Sight: Flat Panel Mura Detection

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

In the increasingly sophisticated world of high-definition flat screen monitors and television screens, image clarity and the elimination of distortion are paramount concerns. As the devices that reproduce images become more and...