Top 10 Surprising Things NASA Helped Invent
It seems hard to believe that something as big a fashion statement as sunglasses could have NASA scientists behind it, but there's a very logical reason for this. After they had created the technology for their staff, they used it to develop sunglasses to protect the rest of the world from the sun's harmful rays.
#9. Water Purification
More and more people these days have water purifiers in their kitchens. And they may be necessary, depending on where you live. But now, thanks to a new process known as forward osmosis, 93% of all water on the space station is recycled. If the scientists up there are willing to wait twice as long for new water by drinking their own pee, it must be a pretty fantastic filter.
#8. Cordless Tools
This may not seem like a totally revolutionary advancement, but there's a lot more science behind cordless tools than we realize. So NASA worked with Black and Decker to create energy-efficient battery-operated tools for astronauts, which then went on to be used by the rest of us down here on Earth.
#7. Better Baby Food
This is probably the most surprising item on the list. Has NASA got some sort of secret astrobabies project? Unfortunately, the hilarious reality of tiny spacesuits is still a good bit away. Since 2002, this oil has been used to enrich baby food. So the next time you see a cute child, know that it is fuelled by hyper-scientific algae from beyond the stars. Fear it.
#6. An Improved Game of Golf
Given that golf is the only sport that has been played on the Moon, it makes a bit of sense that NASA was more than happy to work in conjunction with golfers to improve both their worlds. Furthermore, NASA needed a metal that would easily repair damage from space debris. To do this, they created a metal that reverts to its original shape after a little heat is applied.
#5. Modern Firefighter Suits
Astronauts have to deal with some pretty extreme conditions in space, and so require a lot of protection. In 1997, two firefighters approached NASA scientists and asked if there was any way they could figure out how to improve their gear. NASA worked with the firefighters to create the Supercitical Air Mobility Pack. This small device cools both the firefighter and the air they breathe, and also cleans the air for them, and has become widespread since the early 2000's.
#4. Freeze Dried Food
While not exactly the shining image of healthy eating, freeze dried food can be very important for many people's survival. NASA worked with Oregon Freeze Dry Inc. in the 1960's, and together they developed a way to freeze dry foods that, after a simple injection of water, would become edible.
#3. Camera Phones
As if it wasn't enough that NASA helped develop technology that could function without a plug-in power source, they also likely helped develop the camera for the phone you carry with you everywhere. In the early 1990s, Eric Fossum was hard at work in NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, trying to downsize the cameras used on spacecraft. His solution was the CMOS Active Pixel Sensor, or 'camera on a chip'.
#2. Virtual Reality Helmets
Virtual reality is one of those advancements that has moved slowly, and has yet to really take off in a mainstream way. While this isn't the case, VR can still be fun in places like Disney World, or those "4D" theaters we've probably all been to once and never again. This was a great step forward for the technology, and was used in training.
#1. Shoe Insoles
Aerogel is a substance developed by the company Aspen Aerogel Inc., and is a very strange substance indeed. It's a lightweight material that's been likened to sponge or Styrofoam. The result was the aerogel that we have today and, apart from using it on spacecraft, it has been sold as insulation, carpet, medical bands, and insoles for shoes.
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