As fleets of aircraft age, corrosion of metal parts becomes a very real economic and safety concern. Corrosive agents like moisture, salt, and industrial fluids—and even internal problems, like leaks and condensation—wear away and, especially over time and repeated exposure, begin to...

The Microgravity Combustion Science group at NASA's Glenn Research Center studies how fire and combustible liquids and gasses behave in low-gravity conditions. This group, currently working as part of the Life Support and Habitation Branch under the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate,...

Although one of NASA's goals is to send people to the far reaches of our universe, it is still well known that people need Earth. We understand that humankind's existence relies on its complex relationship with this planet's environment—in particular, the regenerative qualities of Earth's...

Short wavelength solar radiation in the space environment just outside of the Earth's atmosphere produces atomic oxygen. This gas reacts with spacecraft polymers, causing gradual oxidative thinning of the protective layers of orbiting objects, like satellites and the International...

Earth from space—swirling wisps of white against a backdrop of deep azure, punctuated with brown and green swatches of land, all etched on one orb surrounded by black space, floating, seemingly isolated, but teeming with humanity and other forms of life. It is an iconic image, first captured...

During the Mercury missions, astronauts ate terrible food: freeze- dried powders and semi-liquids in aluminum tubes. Decades later, though, astronauts now have meals prepared by celebrity chefs and access to everyday items like shrimp cocktail, stir-fried chicken, and fettuccine alfredo. While the...

The heat generated by wind resistance and engine exhaust during the launch of a space shuttle is potentially damaging to the casings on the solid rocket boosters, which provide over two-thirds of the initial thrust needed to propel the spacecraft into orbit. To protect this important equipment, in the...

The Mobile Launcher Platform at NASA's Kennedy Space Center is a two-story steel structure that provides a transportable launch base for the space shuttle. The main body of the platform is 160 feet long, 135 feet wide, and 25 feet high. When completely unloaded, the platform weighs about 8...

A "revolution in remote sensing" took place in the mid-1980s, when Dr. Alexander F.H. Goetz and his colleagues at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory developed a powerful instrument called AVIRIS (Airborne Visible InfraRed Imaging Spectrometer), according to Dr. Nicholas Short, author of...

The National Biocomputation Center is a joint partnership between the Stanford University School of Medicine's Department of Surgery and NASA's Ames Research Center. Founded in 1997, the goal of the Biocomputation Center has been to develop advanced technologies for medicine. Researchers at this center...

In the late 1970s, Frank Nola, an engineer at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, had an idea for reducing energy waste in small induction motors. The idea, a method to electronically adjust the voltage in accordance with the motor's load, was patented in 1984. The voltage controllers...

NASA's Kennedy Space Center is located on prime beachfront property along the Atlantic coast of Florida on Cape Canaveral. While beautiful, this region presents several challenges, like temperamental coastal weather, lightning storms, and salty, corrosive, sea breezes assaulting...

Future spaceborne astronomy missions will require telescopes with increasingly greater power, driving the dimensions of the optics and their housing structures to significantly greater sizes.

Scientists and engineers have long used computers to model physical systems. Physical modeling is a major part of design and development processes, as well as failure analysis. At NASA, scientists and engineers rely heavily on physical modeling to evaluate the overall health and...

When it comes to solving some of NASA’s most challenging technical problems, the mathematical minds that make up the Computational Sciences Branch at NASA’s Glenn Research Center are ready and waiting to crunch some numbers. Calculating complex algorithms and mathematical equations...

As NASA’s leading organization for information sciences, the Intelligent Systems Division at Ames Research Center conducts world-class computational research to enable out-of-this-world capabilities. In particular, this division is dedicated to ushering in a new era of autonomous spacecraft...

Design errors are costly. When it comes to creating complex systems for aerospace design and testing system readiness, engineering system requirements must be clearly defined, and these systems need to be tested to ensure accuracy, consistency, and safety. Testing a system, however, can...

NASA has invested considerable time and energy working with academia and private industry to develop new composite structures that are capable of standing up to the extreme conditions of space. Over time, such technology has evolved from traditional monocoque designs, in which the skin of a...

In June 2006, NASA scientists used extensive data transmitted from the Chandra X-ray Observatory deep space telescope to prove that up to 25 percent of the light illuminating the universe comes from the “massive crush of matter succumbing to the extreme gravity of black holes.”

In President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 State of the Union address, he announced plans for a U.S. space station, the equivalent of the Russian space station, Mir. This announcement set off a flurry of congressional funding debates, and it was not until 1988 that the President announced that a consensus...

All objects reflect a certain amount of energy, even if it is just the electromagnetic energy created by the movement of electrically charged molecules. Measurements of these reflected energies, called spectra, can be used to create images of observed items and can thus serve to identify...

On October 14, 1947, Captain Charles “Chuck” Yeager made history when he became the first pilot in an officially documented flight to ever break the sound barrier. Flying a Bell XS-1 test jet over the Mohave Desert, Yeager hit approximately 700 miles per hour, when a loud boom thundered...

Glenn Research Center’s Mechanical Components Branch routinely conducts research on transmissions and gearing for advanced gas turbines, promoting their safety, weight reduction, and reliability. The Mechanical Components Branch is staffed by both NASA and U.S. Army Research Laboratory employees,...

Ice accumulation is a serious safety hazard for aircraft. The presence of ice on airplane surfaces prevents the even flow of air, which increases drag and reduces lift. Ice on wings is especially dangerous during takeoff, when a sheet of ice the thickness of a compact disc can reduce lift by 25...

Nanotubes are sheets of graphite, one atom thick, rolled into seamless cylinders, with an exterior diameter in the range of nanometers. For a sense of perspective, if you were to split a human hair into 50,000 independent strands, a nanotube would be about the size of one of those strands.

Developed at NASA’s Langley Research Center, the Macro-Fiber Composite (MFC) is an innovative, low-cost piezoelectric device designed for controlling vibration, noise, and deflections in composite structural beams and panels. It was created for use on helicopter blades and...

When NASA programs need the ultimate reliability to power deep space probes, they repeatedly select thermoelectric (TE) devices as a system component. TE devices heat, cool, and generate electricity when a temperature differential is provided between the two module faces. Using radioactive...

From the football turf to high above the Earth, heat exhaustion is a life-threatening concern. Heat exhaustion, or hyperthermia, is an acute condition caused by excessive exposure to heat and dehydration. ...

One of the forces that propels scientific and cultural advancement is exploration. The mission of NASA is to pioneer the future of space exploration, scientific discovery, and aeronautics research. Through this...

All turbofan engines work on the same principle. A large fan at the front of the engine draws air in. A portion of the air enters the compressor, but a greater portion passes on the outside of the engine—this is called bypass air. The air that enters the compressor then passes through several...