Why do we spend so much money on NASA? Well, other than the thrill of exploring space. NASA's research and technology has made its way into a lot of products here on Earth. Are you excited to know what are these discoveries? Then, let's first discuss the little world of photosynthesis, how do it releases oxygen and things may be useful in other way?
Back in 1980s, NASA was looking at algae. Because algae can produce oxygen, help with waste disposal and even serve as food. It's a handy thing to have on a spaceship. But, the researchers noticed something unexpected in some of the algae. Two fatty acids also found in human breast milk. These compounds help the eyes and brain developed. Which is pretty important for growing children.
So, private companies develop the fatty acids into nutrition of supplements for use in baby formula. Which is how space-age technology made its way into bottles around the world.
On spacewalks, astronauts need to keep their fingers dry and nimble. Despite temperatures that vary from below freezing to hotter than boiling. To make the perfect gloves, NASA works on incorporating so-called Phase Change Materials or PCMs into the fabric of their spacesuits.
- When it's hot, space can reach 120 degrees Celsius but PCM absorb that heat to keep hands cool.
- Either way, when the temperature drops to a glacial -160 degrees. The material releases its stored heat to maintain just the right temperature.
Based on NASA's development work. Private companies began using PCM is to make temperature-controlled bedding and garments.
Finally, in 2011, Jockey introduced its line of stay cool undergarments. Not everyone can go to space but anyone can wear NASA technology in their pants.
In the 1980s, NASA's Infrared Astronomical Satellite or IRIS became the first telescope to scan the skies in the infrared spectra. It sensors were developed to measure the temperature of objects based on the infrared radiation. Which can be useful if doctors want to quickly measure a patient's temperature.
So, NASA researchers worked to develop a medical electric thermometer. The model 7000, now called SureTemp measures the infrared radiation from your eardrum to take your temperature in two seconds.
NASA has a problem with light. Because the unfiltered sunlight in spaced, lasers and the light produced from welding are all intense enough to hurt human eye.
To prevent this damage, researchers took a look at birds of prey. These sharp-fighty animals keep their vision clear by producing droplets of oil to cover their eyes and filter out harmful radiation.
- In imitation, NASA developed a man-made system for filtering light. Which they use to make a welding curtains. Then the same technology found its way into a slightly more fashionable application—sunglasses.
Eagle Eyes developed a lineup UV blocking shades based on NASA's research. You may have seen their cheesy infomercials on late night TV.
The external tank of NASA space shuttle was covered with an insulating foam. Light, easy to use and inexpensive. This foam found another purpose back on Earth—making artificial limbs. The old way used plaster and cornstarch to make molds for prosthetics. However, these molds were heavy and breakable. When the company switched to making molds with NASA's insulating foam. The cost of prosthetic production dropped. Which lowered the prices for consumers as well.