Unless you have a personal interest in eventually colonizing Mars, it’s probably safe to say that you don’t think about NASA that often. Though the federal aerospace research agency made history by putting a man on the moon in the 60s, they’ve fallen from the popular imagination in recent decades.
Artificial Limbs, Solar Power, and More
Still, that doesn’t mean that they haven’t been working on changing the world all around us. In fact, you have something in your coat pocket or sitting near your keys that you can thank NASA for every day. Click through to learn more about all the ways NASA changed, and continues to change, the world around us. Read on to have your mind blown.
Earth’s Long-lost, Almost Identical Cousin Is In Town
In recent years the Kepler Space Telescope was able to spot a planet named Kepler-452b, which is an impressive 1,400 light-years away but bears an uncanny resemblance to our planet Earth. Kepler-452b is more impressive in size compared to our home planet, but the main takeaway is that it is labeled as a planet in the habitable zone.
It is the smallest planet that has been discovered orbiting in that zone, and its surface is able to accommodate pools of water. Although the size of Kepler-452b is much greater than the size of Earth, its orbit is only 5% longer. Kepler-452b has a 385-day orbit, very similar to our home planet’s trip around the sun. See ya later Earth, we’re going to stay at cousin Kepler-452b’s house.
Artificial Limbs Lend a Helping Hand Thanks To NASA
NASA may be known for sending astronauts into space and discovering new galaxies beyond our imaginations, but NASA engineers are also held responsible for the advancement of prosthetic limbs. In an effort to advance artificial muscles created for robotic activities in space, NASA also opened the door to the world of artificial limbs. Environmental Robots Inc. has made great strides with creating robotic-sensing capabilities within the realm of artificial muscles.
These advancements have paved the way for more realistic limbs and prosthetics to enrich the lives of people in space and on Earth. NASA has continued to fund these studies, and it’s only going to get more complex from here. Now that’s one giant leap for mankind.
One Small Taste for Man, One Giant Bite for Mankind
The year 2015 marked the first year astronauts were able to grow food in space for consumption. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station grew food on the spaceship and got to enjoy the fruits of their labor, literally. The Veggie system was the first vegetable garden in open-air onboard the spacecraft, and it used very few resources in order to produce the vegetation to sustain the passengers. The process of freeze drying food has also taken off.
This process involves cooking the food, freezing it, and then it is reheated in a vacuum chamber. Freeze-dried food keeps its nutritional value while being able to be stored away for long periods of time. You reap what you sow, even in outer space.
Pluto Has a Heart, And It’s Cold As Ice
After the New Horizons spacecraft took a decade to venture to Pluto, NASA was able to give us a glimpse of a dwarf planet we never were able to get acquainted with before. It turns out that Pluto is the color red, but it has a heart that is cold and dark.
The huge heart on the surface of Pluto is made up of carbon monoxide ice, and it is literally composed of mountain ranges and plains of ice. The New Horizons spacecraft was able to capture detailed images of Pluto that can give us further insight on this ice queen. We will go any distance to discover, so it’s only a matter of time before we figure out how Pluto’s heart of hearts was really formed.
Climate Change Is Impossible To Ignore
NASA has made significant discoveries about the Larsen B Ice Shelf, which plays a major role in the analysis of climate change. This ice shelf has seen it all – it has been around for over 10,000 years, but scientists predict it could disintegrate within the next ten years. The result? There would be no barrier blocking glaciers from floating into the ocean and causing water levels to rise significantly.
The size of the Larsen B Ice Shelf can be comparable to the state of Rhode Island, so its destruction can have catastrophic effects. Some scientists predict the end is near for the Larsen B Ice Shelf, and its demise may come sooner than later. The truth hurts, and it also causes oceans to overflow.
ET Phone Home? Dwarf Planet Has Its Lights On
A dwarf planet between Mars and Jupiter known as Ceres has caught the attention of NASA. Ceres is the biggest object found in the asteroid belt, and NASA has shed some light on this mysterious dwarf planet. The Dawn spacecraft captured a photo of the planet from 29,000 miles away, but what the photograph contained left many wondering what life could be lurking on the planet’s surface.
The image shows two bright spots that have been determined to be coming from a deep crater, leaving little to every sci-fi fan’s imagination. NASA is eager to explore the mysteries of Ceres and its craters, and time will only tell what will be found wandering below this dwarf planet’s surface.
NASA Allows You To Straighten Your Teeth In Style
Nothing is more dreaded than a mouthful of metal during adolescence. Advancements in orthodontics have made the dream of straight teeth a virtually painless experience, and NASA is at the forefront of the most desirable options. The material translucent polycrystalline alumina (TPA) is what is used in the making of invisible braces, and it was initially made by NASA for missile tracking.
This new form of teeth alignment was first marketed by the company 3M Unitek. These invisible braces are made to form every single tooth, and a small, metal wire connects them together. They have proven to be just as effective as their solely-metal counterparts, and they are easier on the eyes. Teeth straightening in the name of science.
A Picture of Us
NASA’s Deep Sea Climate Observatory took this breathtaking picture, and it needs no introduction. It was taken using the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), and it was captured a hefty one million miles away from Earth. That’s some good picture quality for that kind of distance.
There are no words for how the vast oceans and drifting clouds can be seen from across the universe. Our tiny speck looks so beautiful rotating around the sun. This photograph really puts the size of the universe in perspective, and it is a true testament to all we have explored and have yet to explore. NASA is proud to call Earth home, but these pictures show just how much there is out there to see.
Harnessing the Sun
While on a mission to create a lightweight aircraft that could be flown at high altitudes, NASA set fire to a new, environmentally-friendly way to power our homes and businesses. Solar power is now economical, and it cuts down on pollution for a cleaner planet. What better way to show the Earth you care than to cut back on your use of electrical power and waste?
Solar power uses natural energy from the sun to power your home or business, and it can cut back on your electrical bill as an added bonus. NASA is searching for new lifeforms and preserving what life is back home on Earth, which is definitely a win-win!
Sleep Like an Astronaut
A good night’s sleep is sacred, and NASA is responsible for discovering the MVP in mattress comfort. NASA created open cell polyurethane-silicon plastic to be used in aircraft seats in order to ensure comfort and lessen the impact during spacecraft landings. It is now being used by NASCAR to further protect a driver’s safety.
The material was repackaged for use by the general public, and the most beautiful night’s sleep was born. The memory foam mattress is known to be one of the lightest, most comfortable mattresses on the market, and its rise in popularity in recent years shows that consumers value a good night’s sleep. Sweet dreams.
Better Running Shoes
Stepping foot on the moon requires some pep in your step, so NASA created a boot containing three-dimensional polyurethane foam fabric. This put some spring in an astronaut’s step, and it also provided ventilation to the feet. This technology has been implemented into many sport sneaker brands that have a focus on providing comfort and putting the health of a consumer’s feet and joints first.
This technology has been incorporated into sneakers and other shoes, allowing us to walk, run, and venture across the moon in comfort. Whether you plan on taking a run across town or want to walk on the moon, polyurethane foam fabric allows you to do it in comfort and style.
Beauty Deep in Space
The universe is vast and ominous, containing stars, planets, and galaxies billions of light years away. Advances in technology have allowed us to see far beyond our place in the universe, and this includes gigantic clouds of glowing gas. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope was able to capture this photo of the Lagoon Nebula, which is comprised of strong winds blowing the gas around.
Although beautiful, the Lagoon Nebula would be extremely dangerous and deadly for human beings to experience in person. Not as picturesque as the picture leads us to believe, but still out of this world. Thankfully, NASA technology is able to capture all of the beauty and the wonder of the universe so we don’t have to get too close.
Some Discoveries Have Set Our World on Fire
A fire detector is a staple to every home. Many lives have been saved due to its creation, and NASA is no stranger to looking out for the safety of its employees as well as the rest of the world. The first adjustable smoke detector was created by NASA in order to alert astronauts working in the first American space station of any gasses or fire loose in the station.
NASA wasn’t just blowing smoke, this invention was a game changer. Every home is equipped with a fire detector, and this invention has saved many lives across the globe. NASA has the best interests of space exploration and families across the world in mind. Talk about taking the heat!
Landing on the Moon Required Astronauts to Cut the Cord
Landing on the moon was the first step, collecting rock and soil samples in the name of science was the real sprint. NASA teamed with Black & Decker in order to create a drill that was powerful enough to break the moon’s surface but also light-weight and easy to use in space. The cordless drill powered by batteries was a monumental win for space exploration as well as household chores.
The cordless drill can be found in almost every garage in America, and it has made household repairs and renovations easier and more efficient for the average person. NASA knows how to get down to business when it comes to space exploration and household tool innovation, and we can most definitely dig that.
Filtered Water from Space
The days of consuming tap water straight from the sink have been overshadowed by inventing a product that produces crystal-clear liquid goodness. NASA created a filter that used activated charcoal to purify the water. The activated charcoal contains ions which act to neutralize the pathogens within the water, and the result is water in its purest form.
This was a complete game-changer in the world of hydration, and it gave us the ability to create crisp, refreshing water right from the sink. The water filter is also an environmentally-friendly invention, as it can replace the purchase of water bottles and other plastic containers. Cheers to that, NASA! Bottoms up.
NASA’s Diet Plan
Taking care of a baby is a tough job. Adjusting to a life of dirty diapers, laundry, and constant feedings leaves little time to worry about nutrition. The discovery of microalgae by NASA allowed food to last longer due to the extensive space travel of astronauts. This microalga is an ingredient in baby formulas, allowing our future space travelers to receive all of the necessary nutrition they need.
Baby formula is a lifesaver to many new parents that choose not to breastfeed or are not able to do so. It’s as easy as taking a scoop of formula, adding some water, and giving the bottle a good shake to give your baby the nourishment they need. NASA revolutionized motherhood, and for that we thank you.
Space Innovation Brought the Heat To Firefighters Everywhere
NASA teamed with the National Bureau of Fire Standards to create a lightweight suit including a breathing system. This NASA development comprised of materials that needed to be lightweight for space travel. This breathing system includes a mask, harness, frame, and an air bottle made up of an aluminum composite material. This material was created by NASA for rocket casings, and now it has made firefighting a safer, life-saving job.
The breathing mask created by NASA has been protecting firefighters from deadly fumes and gasses in the line of duty. If firefighters did not have the appropriate gear there would be a drastic increase in casualties due to the dangerous conditions they are exposed to. NASA sure knows how to turn up the heat.
Connecting Every Call
Over 200 NASA satellites are orbiting the Earth you read this. This revolutionary technology allows us to communicate with friends across town, family across the country, and people around the globe. These satellites allow us to stay in touch with the people most important to us, and they also allow national and international emergencies to be communicated in a quick, more efficient manner.
Being able to communicate with people around the world is not only convenient but lifesaving and NASA was at the forefront of it all. Next time you take a call or send a text, make sure to appreciate the space technology making it possible. It even makes you thankful for those ten missed calls from your mother in a 24-hour period.
Innovating at the Edge of Life and Death
A heart transplant involves intricate surgery, but it is necessary for those with heart complications to live a fulfilling, long life. NASA worked with Dr. Michael DeBakey, Dr. George Noon, and MicroMed technology to create a heart pump for those who are waiting for an available heart transplant from an eligible donor. The Ventricular Assist Device is a life-saving invention that physically pumps blood while the person waits for another heart.
This invention has saved so many lives of those waiting for a transplant, and it has forever changed the heart surgery arena and the entire medical field. It gives a person the time needed to survive before a transplant becomes available, and that is a necessity in the unpredictable world of donor organs. An unreal innovation that has a lot of love to give.
Material in Sunglasses Kept Astronauts Safe
Space equipment is bulky and protective – just like a puffy snowsuit – but with unknown debris and particles floating around, another level of protection is needed to keep astronauts safe until they make it back to our atmosphere. NASA solved this dilemma by applying a special plastic coating to prevent damage. This technology is useful to astronauts in the unpredictable universe as well as in everyday professions that may cause unnecessary harm to a person’s eye.
Those in the fields of construction, demolition, welding, and mechanics can rest easy knowing that their eyesight is protected while they work. This technology provided us with scratch-resistant sunglasses, so we can enjoy staring at the sun rather than venturing towards it. NASA knows not to fly too close to the sun, and how to protect your eyes from its rays.