Publication highlights NASA's efforts to put space technolog
by Marshall Space Flight CenterMore articles in Science Projects
From sunglasses to solar power collection, technologies derived from NASA's space research continue to change the world around us. The latest examples are highlighted in the new edition of "Spinoff" -- an annual publication showing how technology from the space program benefits everyday life.
NASA views its goal to strengthen the nation's prosperity and quality of life as a top mission. A major component of that mission is realized through developing technologies to fulfill the needs of the space program, then helping businesses develop them for commercial use.
"Spinoff 2002" showcases a wide range of technologies and innovations, originally created to meet the needs of the nation's space program, and subsequently adapted to make our lives better. Examples include a device that kills harmful bacteria, ways to boost water and electricity reserves and plant adaptations that tempt the senses with new flavors and fragrances to enjoy.
NASA's Marshall Center Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., developed or supported development of the following products, featured in the 2002 edition of "Spinoff." They include:
* An air filtration system that can kill all types of harmful bacteria - even anthrax -- and remove allergens from the air with better than 90 percent efficiency.
* An ultralight solar concentrator that gathers power from the Sun and efficiently converts it into electrical power. This could provide a significant source of energy for future space missions.
* A water purification process capable of removing two troublesome types of contaminants, perchlorate and nitrate, from water and rendering them harmless.
* Tennis shoes -- for a horse? "Power Pads" cushion a horse's hooves, protecting against injuries and helping ease discomfort associated with brittle hooves or arthritis.
* A "space rose" that produces an entirely new scent. By growing the rose, or other plants in a space environment, scientists saw changes in properties of the essential oils - where all fragrance and flavor come from -opening up thousands of new possibilities for better tasting foods and tantalizing new aromas.
Marshall and the other nine NASA field centers encourage private industry to develop space technologies for use on Earth. Commercial companies entering into a joint venture with NASA participate in licensing agreements and royalties earned on products they help develop.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the NASA Technology Transfer Program has, since 1962, helped American companies introduce more than 1,200 new or improved products for public use, ranging from cancer treatment and detection systems to computer software. The 2002 "Spinoff" publication also traces this four-decade evolution of a program that has brought "the benefits of space down to Earth."