Spinoff: Public Safety
Fire-Resistant Reinforcement Makes Steel Structures Sturdier

In preparing to send man to the Moon in the 1960s, no detail was too small for NASA to consider when it came to ensuring that humans and their transporting spacecraft could withstand the powerful thrust of a launch, the harsh and unforgiving conditions of space, and the extremely high...

Spinoff: Public Safety
Feeling Well Rested and Wide Awake When it Counts

Responding to a congressional concern about aviation safety, NASA's Ames Research Center created the Ames Fatigue/Jet Lag Program in 1980 to examine the extent to which fatigue, sleep loss, and circadian disruption affect pilot performance. The program's primary research was conducted in field...

Spinoff: Consumer, Home, and Recreation
X-ray Device Makes Scrubbing Rugs Clean a Spotless Effort

If "pulling the rug out from under" means suddenly withdrawing support and assistance, then NASA is pretty good at "putting the rug under" when it comes to offering technical support and assistance to private industry. In the case of a new X-ray fluorescence (XRF) sensor featuring...

Spinoff: Consumer, Home, and Recreation
A Match Made in Space

Just before the space shuttle reaches orbit, its three main engines shut down so that it can achieve separation from the massive external tank that provided the fuel required for liftoff and ascent. In jettisoning the external tank—which is completely devoid of fuel at this point in the flight—the space...

Spinoff: Consumer, Home, and Recreation
Affordable Space Tourism: SpaceStationSim

For over 5 years, people have been living and working in space on the International Space Station (ISS), a state-of-the-art laboratory complex orbiting high above the Earth. Offering a large, sustained microgravity environment that cannot be duplicated on Earth, the ISS furthers humankind's knowledge of...

Spinoff: Consumer, Home, and Recreation
Preventing Ice Before it Forms

NASA has always been on the cutting edge of aviation safety research, though many of the technologies the Agency develops also find practical application in ground transportation safety. One of the most prominent examples of this type of technology transfer is the grooved pavement developed by NASA in the early...

Spinoff: Consumer, Home, and Recreation
Microspheres in Plasma Display Panels

NASA does things that have never been done before—sending spacecraft to other planets, sending people to the Moon, and exploring the limits of the universe. To accomplish these scientific missions, engineers at work within the Space Agency build machines and equipment that have never been made...

Spinoff: Consumer, Home, and Recreation
Look Sharp While Seeing Sharp

While fashion styles are known to come and go, a certain 'shade' from the past has proved otherwise.

Spinoff: Consumer, Home, and Recreation
Raised Relief Mars Globe Brings the Red Planet Closer

When the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) entered the Red Planet's atmosphere in March 2006, it joined the ranks of other noble explorers studying the planet over the past 2,000-plus years. This new NASA orbiter will study the Martian atmosphere and surface, and probe underground in search...

Spinoff: Consumer, Home, and Recreation
Reflecting on Space Benefits: A Shining Example

NASA has long been known for having developed the thin, shiny reflective material used to insulate everything from the Hubble Space Telescope to hikers, from the Mars rovers to marathon runners, from computers to campers, from satellites to sun shields, and from rockets to residences. It is one of...

Spinoff: Environmental and Agricultural Resources
PRP: The Proven Solution for Cleaning Up Oil Spills

The Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker exporting millions of gallons of oil, ran aground just after midnight on March 24, 1989 in Alaska, creating what is, to this day, the worst environmental disaster in American history. The affected area of coastal Alaska continues to feel the toxic results of that...

Spinoff: Environmental and Agricultural Resources
Progressive Plant Growing Has Business Blooming

Soil, water, and light. According to prevailing dogma, these are the three main ingredients for growing and maintaining healthy plants. But what if you take soil completely out of the equation and limit the presence of water significantly? Can you still nurture plants in such an...

Spinoff: Environmental and Agricultural Resources
FLIPPER: Validation for Remote Ocean Imaging

In order to better understand our solar system and the ways it supports life, scientists and researchers at NASA study the planets. Of course, one of the planets on which NASA focuses most of its research is the Blue Planet, Earth, since this is the only one currently known to support life; and it is...

Spinoff: Environmental and Agricultural Resources
Paper-Thin Plastic Film Soaks Up Sun to Create Solar Energy

A solar cell is a semiconductor device that converts photons, or light, into electricity. The most widely used solar cells today are made from wafers of mono- or poly-crystalline silicon.

Spinoff: Environmental and Agricultural Resources
Saving Space and Time: The Tractor That Einstein Built

In 1984, NASA initiated the Gravity Probe B (GP-B) program to test two unverified predictions of Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity—hypotheses about the ways space, time, light, and gravity relate to each other. To test these predictions, the Space Agency and researchers...

Spinoff: Computer Technology
A Predictive Approach to Eliminating Errors in Software Code

NASA's Metrics Data Program Data Repository is a database that stores problem, product, and metrics data. The primary goal of this data repository is to provide project data to the software community. In doing so, the Metrics Data Program collects artifacts from a large NASA...

Spinoff: Computer Technology
Scheduling Software for Complex Scenarios

Preparing a vehicle and its payload for a single launch is a complex process that involves thousands of operations. Because the equipment and facilities required to carry out these operations are extremely expensive and limited in number, optimal assignment and efficient use are critically important....

Spinoff: Computer Technology
Difficult Decisions Made Easier

NASA missions are extremely complex and prone to sudden, catastrophic failure if equipment falters or if an unforeseen event occurs. For these reasons, NASA trains to expect the unexpected. It tests its equipment and systems in extreme conditions, and it develops risk-analysis tests to foresee any possible...

Spinoff: Computer Technology
Difficult Decisions Made Easier

NASA missions are extremely complex and prone to sudden, catastrophic failure if equipment falters or if an unforeseen event occurs. For these reasons, NASA trains to expect the unexpected. It tests its equipment and systems in extreme conditions, and it develops risk-analysis tests to foresee any possible...

Spinoff: Computer Technology
GPS Eye-in-the-Sky Software Takes Closer Look Below

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite navigation system developed and maintained by the U.S. Government. Though initially designed for military applications, GPS is also a public information service that protects the environment, improves productivity, and increases safety. It can...

Spinoff: Computer Technology
A History of High-Performance Computing

Faster than most speedy computers. More powerful than its NASA data-processing predecessors. Able to leap large, mission-related computational problems in a single bound. Clearly, it’s neither a bird nor a plane, nor does it need to don a red cape, because it’s super in its own way. It’s Columbia,...

Spinoff: Industrial Productivity & Manufacturing Technology
Cryogenic Cooling for Myriad Applications—A STAR Is Born!

Cryogenics, the science of generating extremely low temperatures, has wide applicability throughout NASA. The Agency employs cryogenics for rocket propulsion, high-pressure gas supply, breathable air in space, life support equipment, electricity, water, food preservation and packaging,...

Spinoff: Industrial Productivity & Manufacturing Technology
Temperature Sensing for Oil, Gas, and Structural Analysis

With retirement of the space shuttle imminent, and the commercial space industry burgeoning, NASA is searching for safe and innovative methods for carrying payload and passengers to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. The search for new vehicles has been going on for some years now, with a...

Spinoff: Industrial Productivity & Manufacturing Technology
Robust, Thin Optical Films for Extreme Environments

The environment of space presents scientists and engineers with the challenges of a harsh, unforgiving laboratory in which to conduct their scientific research. Solar astronomy and X-ray astronomy are two of the more challenging areas into which NASA scientists delve, as the optics for this...

Spinoff: Industrial Productivity & Manufacturing Technology
The Cutting Edge of High-Temperature Composites

NASA’s Ultra-Efficient Engine Technology (UEET) program was formed in 1999 at Glenn Research Center to manage an important national propulsion program for the Space Agency. The UEET program’s focus is on developing innovative technologies to enable intelligent, environmentally friendly, and...

Spinoff: Industrial Productivity & Manufacturing Technology
Nano Goes Magnetic to Attract Big Business

Glenn Research Center has combined state-of-the-art electrical designs with complex, computer-aided analyses to develop some of today’s most advanced power systems, in space and on Earth. The center’s Power and On-Board Propulsion Technology Division is the brain behind many of these power systems....

Spinoff: Industrial Productivity & Manufacturing Technology
Laser Mapping for Visual Inspection and Measurement

Each space shuttle orbiter has 38 Primary Reaction Control System (PRCS) thrusters to help power and position the vehicle for maneuvers in space, including reentry and establishing Earth orbit. Minor flaws in the ceramic lining of a thruster, such as a chip or crack, can cripple the operations...

Spinoff: Industrial Productivity & Manufacturing Technology
Electrical Conductivity in Textiles

Copper is the most widely used electrical conductor. Like most metals, though, it has several drawbacks: it is heavy, expensive, and can break. Fibers that conduct electricity could be the solutions to these problems, and they are of great interest to NASA.

Spinoff: Industrial Productivity & Manufacturing Technology
Spatial Phase Imaging

In 1928, Alexander Fleming, a young Scottish scientist with a side practice of discretely treating the syphilis infections of prominent Londoners, was researching agents that could be used to combat such bacterial infections. He left his practice for a 2-week vacation, inadvertently leaving several bacterial culture plates...

Spinoff: Industrial Productivity & Manufacturing Technology
Miniature Wireless Sensors Size Up to Big Applications

Like the environment of space, the undersea world is a hostile, alien place for humans to live. But far beneath the waves near Key Largo, Florida, an underwater laboratory called Aquarius provides a safe harbor for scientists to live and work for weeks at a time.