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10 NASA Inventions You Might Use Every Day

Jyoti Babel Oct 17, 2020
Not everyone in the world might be able to explore what lies in space, but everyone is very likely to be using some NASA-invented product on a daily basis. We will talk about some NASA inventions that we might be using every day.

Did You Know?

The nutrition enrichment ingredients in baby food were discovered during NASA sponsored research to explore the potential of algae as recycling agents in space. DHA & ARA are algae-based fatty acids that are similar to those found in breast milk, and are important for the baby's health.
Ever since its creation in 1958, the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) has achieved many milestones in advanced space research. But NASA's activities are not just restricted to space research and exploration, it has contributed immensely to the invention of some break-through products that has become staple to our everyday life.
Over the years NASA has partnered with various research organizations, teams and produced several products that have made life easier for us. From things that seem simple today, like enriched baby food, water filters, and shoe insoles, to more technologically advanced things like long distance telecommunications, camera phones, all have their origin in NASA.
Since 1976, every year NASA has published a list of its commercialized inventions and a link to its research. There are more than 1300 commercialized NASA inventions that have benefited the world. It has filed more than 6300 patents with the US government. Let us see what are the top NASA inventions we might be using every day.
Water Filters
We all use water filters every day. It has become an indispensable part of our life. But have we ever wondered when water filtering technology was invented?
Actually, water filtering technology has been in existence since the early 1950s. NASA wanted to find a way to cleanse water in extreme conditions as astronauts on spaceships have to cleanse water for reuse. Water filters have activated charcoal.
Activated charcoal contains silver ions that neutralize pathogens in the water and makes it fit for use. Today, millions of people use water filters to purify water for drinking without even realizing that NASA is behind it.
Cordless Tools
We use several cordless tools in our daily lives, like cordless vacuum cleaners, drills, etc.
But most of us do not know that it is the same technology that was used by astronauts to drill sample rocks on the moon for study.
Black & Decker had already invented cordless tools in 1961, but collaboration with NASA helped in refining the technology to produce lightweight, compact, battery operated tools. The same principle was later applied to produce many other tools for common consumer use.
Camera Phones
Camera phones are a common sight today. But did you know that this invention was also a result of NASA's endeavor?
During the 1990s, the Jet Propulsion team at NASA were researching ways to improve the CMOS image sensors in order to reduce the size of digital cameras on spaceships, without compromising on image quality. When the CMOS active pixel camera was invented, it proved useful not only in spacecrafts but also for use on Earth.
Smoke Detectors
Smoke detectors were first invented to be used on the first American Spaceship - Skylab. NASA partnered with Honeywell to make the first ionization smoke detector.
That led to the introduction of cheap photoelectric smoke detectors in 1979. This little device has been instrumental in saving many lives over the years. All thanks to NASA for the innovative idea.
Long Distance Telecommunication
Today we cannot imagine how it would be if long distance telephone calls did not exist. It has taken decades of work and technological advancement to make it possible and feasible.
NASA created satellites for communication between astronauts in outer space and scientists on Earth. Using the same technology, many more satellites were created. They orbit the Earth today, and receive and send messages which makes it possible for us to communicate with people across the globe.
Shoe Insoles
You might be surprised to find that your athletic running shoes have borrowed technology from moon boots! Yes, that's true.
Astronauts on the Apollo mission had specially designed boots with soles that had shock absorbing lining which helped in reducing the impact on their feet. Today, shoe manufacturers use the same technology to create shoes that puts more spring in your step.
Ear Thermometers
In their quest to find an easier way to take body temperature, Diatek Corp of California collaborated with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The laboratory had extensive experience of using infrared sensors to deduce the temperature of celestial bodies. Based on a similar principle, ear thermometers were invented that could give a body temperature reading in less than 2 seconds. Now, who wants to wait for the mercury to rise?
Memory Foam
Did you know NASA is also responsible for your good night's sleep? Memory foam pillows are widely used today to induce good sleep, but did you know that memory foam was first used for padding aircraft seats.
Memory foam is actually open cell polyurethane-silicon plastic which has great shock absorbing property. Memory foam can bounce back to its original size even after being compressed to 10% of its size.
Scratch-resistant Lenses
NASA needed a special kind of coating to protect the equipment in space from dust and debris. That's why the Ames Research center created a scratch-resistant coating that could serve the purpose.
Later, Foster Grant Corp. acquired the license of coating and applied them on plastic lenses, creating extremely lightweight scratch-resistant lenses. So, now when you flaunt your cool shades in summer, know that NASA is behind it.
Invisible Braces
Translucent polycrystalline alumina (TPA) is the secret behind invisible braces. It was first invented by Ceradyne in collaboration with NASA
Advanced Ceramic Research to protect the infrared antennae of heat-seeking missile trackers. At the same time, another company was working on a more aesthetic design of braces.
They found that TPA was an ideal substitute, and since they were translucent they were perfect for invisible braces. They are, in fact, one of the most successful and popular products in the orthodontics industry.
The list doesn't end here. There are many more inventions of NASA that find their way into our daily life. Have you ever wondered how the Golden Gate Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, the Giant Buddha of Hong Kong and many other important monuments remain immune to corrosion.
Well, thanks to NASA they have all been pained with a special protective paint. It was first invented to protect the Kennedy Space Center's launch structures from air-salt corrosion, thermal stress, and rocket exhaust.
Safety grooving is another thing that was also first used at NASA. It might not seem like a big invention but, it is interesting to note that application of this technique on roads and highways have led to an 85% decrease in highway accidents.
Though we remain unaware of the fact, NASA's inventions have touched many facets of our life and have gone a long way in improving the quality our life.