10 Technologies You Never Knew Were Invented By NASA

10 Technologies Invented By NASA 10 Smartphone cameras In the early 1990s, a team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California were researching a solution to the heavy, space-filling cameras available for space travel

The result of this research was CMOS sensors, which allowed for high quality digital photography from a small camera, which required minimal power From this research team, a group developed the company Photobit and commercialized the technology, which would eventually feature in the world’s first camera phone in 2000 By 2005, Photobit was shipping around 1 million CMOS sensors a day, that featured in X-Ray machines, rear view cameras for cars and numerous other technologies To this day, roughly one in three camera phones on the planet still employs technology designed for NASA spacecraft 9

Memory Foam In 1962, one of NASA’s aeronautical engineers, named Charles Yost helped developed technology to protect astronauts from the rigors of G-force Four years later, Yost was part of a NASA research team charged with designing airplane seating that would absorb shock then return to its original shape, thus increasing chances of passenger survival in the case of a crash Besides its safety applications, people also noticed that Yost’s ‘temper foam’ was very comfortable, and so in 1967, he started a company to market it worldwide The uses of the foam have since spanned from shoes to NFL players’ helmets The most popular use of the NASA technology has been the mattress, which leads the market for specialty mattresses and has proven effectiveness at preventing sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy, and restless legs syndrome

8 Scratch Resistant Glasses Before 1972, eyeglasses were primarily made of glass, which were often heavy and liable to shatter dangerously For these reasons the US Food and Drug Administration decreed in 1972 that all sunglasses and prescription lenses would be shatter-resistant

This effectively limited manufacturers to using more durable plastic which allowed for generally better vision, but was very liable to scratch The solution for this came from NASA researcher Ted Wydeven, who used electric discharges to cover a filter in a thin plastic film for his research into water purification Finding this film to be surprisingly tough, he went on to apply the same work to abrasion-resistant space helmet visors In 1983, sunglasses manufacturer Foster-Grant commercialized this coating and today the majority of US eyeglasses use plastic lenses, which last 10 times as long as before the introduction of NASA technology 7

Insulin Pump According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 94% of the US population suffers from diabetes Treatments require constant regulation of your body’s blood sugar and can be expensive and time consuming, but NASA have gone some way to alleviating this In NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, researchers developed implants for astronauts which monitor blood sugar levels and regulate the release of insulin when required This was intended for long term space travel, where astronaut nutrition is a constant concern, but since the late 80s, has helped monitor the health of people with type 1 diabetes

Unlike other insulin dispensers, the pump removes the user’s need for daily injections, and allows a pre-programmed rate of release, customizable to the user’s needs As of 2016, roughly 40 percent of all US citizens with type 1 diabetes use an insulin pump 6 Water Filters On longer trips to space, the quality of water is essential to be able to regulate For this, NASA developed special cartridges in the 1970s, which used iodine to purify the water aboard their shuttles, technology that has since been used on every NASA shuttle

This water purification technology, called the Microbial Check Valve has also been employed worldwide, providing clean drinking water to some of the 1 billion people on Earth without it Recipients of the purification systems include earthquake refugees in Pakistan and Kurdish villagers in northern Iraq The technology also significantly helped the field of dentistry by fighting bacteria in their water, and is currently used in roughly 40% of all US Dental schools 5 Landmine Removal At roughly $10,000 per 500 grams of Space Shuttle cargo, missions to space are notoriously expensive and many of the materials involved can only be used once

Thus, any methods for recycling shuttle material are important to NASA That said, this recycling can also offer significant benefits for the rest of the world This was the case with NASA’s Demining Device, designed in association with Thiokol Propulsion to curb the worldwide rate of one landmine casualty every 22 minutes The device uses rocket fuel left over from previous space flights, which is used in a remotely activated flare device to burn through unexploded landmines, disabling them without risk and rendering them harmless 4

FINDER Technology Another successfully recycled technology was NASA’s FINDER, which was initially designed as a means for detecting life on alien planets FINDER sends a microwave signal about a thousandth of a cell phone’s output and detects tiny changes in the signal that returns The device is about the size of a suitcase, weighs less than 10 kilograms, and can detect heartbeats through 10 meters of rubble or 6 meters of solid concrete, so NASA decided it could be effectively repurposed as a tool for first responders In April of 2015, Nepal was hit by a 78 magnitude earthquake which took more than 7,000 lives and left many more trapped

The disaster was the first field test for the device, which was able to detect and save the lives of four people trapped in rubble As of 2017, new FINDER prototypes are being designed and could become an essential tool in disaster response 3 3D Printed Food On long distance space flight, food needs a shelf life upwards of 15 years, significantly limiting the food available to astronauts But NASA research has made it possible to remove the moisture from food, separating all carbs, proteins and nutrients into powder form

Using 3D printing technology, the NASA funded BeeHex have developed technology to print this food in a more appetizing form for long haul astronauts The most successful application of this technology so far has been 3D printed pizzas because of their flat, layered structure, which became commercially available in 2017 This technology is faster, more consistent, cleaner and requires less human work than typical food production, which combined with the long shelf life of the ingredients leads Beehex to believe 3D printing could be a significant advancement in the fight against world hunger 2 Space Age Swimsuit Using Langley Research Center's wind tunnel testing facilities and fluid flow analysis software, NASA worked with Speedo to design a new improved swimsuit for Olympians, following the 2004 Olympics

What resulted was the LZR Racer suit, which increased buoyancy and reduced friction drag 24% more than the previous Speedo swimsuit In the next Olympics in 2008, athletes wearing the suit broke 13 world records, thanks to the average 2% time reduction it gave them Since it was introduced, the space age suit was worn by 93 record breakers and 33 of the 36 medal winners, before ultimately being banned in 2010 1 Firefighting equipment If there’s any other uniform as important as an astronaut’s, it’s that of a firefighter

With this in mind, NASA lent the fire department their decades of scientific pioneering in the early 1970s and developed several items to improve the effectiveness of US firefighters, while making them safer in their dangerous roles With the National Bureau of Standards, they created a lightweight equipment using special aluminum developed for rocket castings, including a mask that weighed less than 85 grams Using the same materials designed to protect shuttles upon re-entry, they also developed flexible, heat-resistant uniforms for firefighters to wear NASA’s inductorless electronic circuit technology has also made for lower-cost, more rugged, two-way radios improving firefighter communication and lowering the cost to taxpayers This equipment is now available to all US firefighters and the occurrence of firefighter fatality has dropped by roughly half since its introduction the 1970s

So that was 10 Technologies Invented by NASA How many have you used before? Have we missed any out? Let us know in the comments below, and don't forget to like and subscribe! And for more, check out this great Alltime10s video on screen now

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