Which Everyday Unique Inventions Do We Use That Were Created By NASA?
NASA has a history of creating inventions that not only change the world but also shape the way we live and work today. Look at some of NASA's innovations and see how they have shaped society today.
1. The Space Pen
According to NASA, when Russian scientists first saw astronauts using pens in low gravity, they noted it would be nearly impossible for them to use pens on Earth because the ink wouldn't flow, and it would take an immense amount of pressure to push down on the ballpoint. After some time, Russian scientist developed their version called a "space pen" that could write with liquid ink in zero gravity or any other environment where liquids are impossible to control. Inventions that were created by NASA but also used by billions of people every day all over the world. The list includes items like a tv, remote control, and defibrillator.
2. The Shuttle
NASA is credited with inventing the Space Shuttle, a reusable space vehicle used to transport equipment, supplies, and astronauts between launch vehicles and space stations in Low Earth orbit. It started service in 1981 and retired in 2011 after 135 flights. The most famous shuttle was the Space Shuttle Columbia, destroyed during reentry into Earth's atmosphere on February 1, 2003, when it broke apart over Texas. Currently, only two operational shuttles are left: Discovery (STS-133) and Atlantis (STS-135).
3. Smoke Detectors
NASA scientists are widely credited with inventing the first smoke detector. The fire alarm was created by a NASA scientist in 1968. It could detect dangerous levels of smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) in an airplane, alerting pilots or astronauts to stop potential fires before they start. This innovation went on become be used in buildings, homes, schools, and industrial sites all over the world.
Invented by NASA scientists during their work to create flat-screen panels for video displays, LCDs have allowed people to develop new technologies like cell phones and television screens that require thin screens for greater mobility or portability.
5. Cordless Power Tools
Another invention credited to NASA is the cordless power tool. The problem with corded power tools was that they always needed a large, heavy, and bulky outlet or power strip that took up space, which was a huge disadvantage when working in tight areas like inside vehicles or under houses. In response, NASA invented the cordless power tool in 1992 that could run for hundreds of hours on lithium-ion batteries without being charged. This invention changed the entire industry and allowed people to build more things quickly and with less hassle.
Soon after the Apollo missions ended, NASA scientists began to develop and produce satellites that would track the positions of ships at sea, which led to the development of GPS technology. GPS technology is widely used worldwide to help people find destinations and navigate their way.
7. Light Bulbs
NASA also discovered that ordinary incandescent light bulbs create heat as a byproduct of electricity, normally put into the surrounding environment as simple waste heat. To combat this problem, a team of NASA scientists developed compact fluorescent light bulbs that don't waste energy by creating heat—a critical breakthrough considering it could save millions of dollars spent on utility bills each year in California alone. In addition, a lot of greenhouse gases are produced on Earth due to the heat that light bulbs create. By creating CF bulbs, NASA could reduce that amount of carbon dioxide by 1 million tons annually.
8. Memory Foam
Bassett Furniture Industries began the development of memory foam in 1966 by using NASA's research from Project Mercury and the Apollo program to create the first ergonomic computer chair. Still, NASA wasn't finished with their new invention yet. In 1987, a NASA researcher started working on manufacturing memory foam. Today memory foam is widely used in mattresses, pillows, and other consumer products to improve comfort and lower stress on the body.
The invention of the hook-and-loop fastener is credited to Donna Fernandes, an employee at NASA. Her idea was to create a way to fasten clothing better together, but NASA rejected her application due to her lack of formal training. However, Fernandes continued working on the project in her spare time and won a patent for the hook-and-loop fastener in the late 1960s. When NASA finally approved the product, she received more than $500,000 compensation.
10. The Frisbee
In 1969, a NASA scientist attempted to create an easy-to-throw object made of plastic that had the same properties as a frisbee but would be safe for military forces and children. He introduced flying discs on April 21, 1971, and after NASA evaluated his creation, he was awarded $25,000 for the invention. NASA used its patents to develop flying discs that were made of wood and metal, which were later reinvented by sports equipment companies like Wham-O and the International Frisbee Association.
11. The Trampoline
The trampoline is a popular children's toy that allows them to jump repeatedly without the risk of falling. NASA discovered that its astronauts needed this kind of low-impact exercise to prevent muscle deterioration during long periods of weightlessness in space, so they invented a small, spring-loaded trampoline for the Skylab program in 1973. After the Skylab program was completed, NASA offered its patents and designs as public domain, which has led to many companies creating their own versions since then.
12. Air Bags
Astronauts have used inflation bags for decades to protect them from injury when landing on hard surfaces like concrete. These bags inflate rapidly to absorb the shock of landing and then deflate quickly. Some NASA astronauts were even shown using them in space to prevent possible injury when being bounced around during reentry.
14. Catalytic Converters
Catalytic converters were created by NASA at Marshall Space Flight Center in 1975 when researchers working on rocket fuel discovered that they could be used to control exhaust emissions in cars. At first, the converters were only used on cars that were air-quality test vehicles, but they have since been retrofitted on a majority of cars in the United States.
15. Ear Thermometer
NASA was working to develop lightweight and inexpensive infrared ear thermometers for tracking astronauts' body temperatures during missions. The thermometers are now widely used as a safe, painless and convenient method of measuring human body temperature without using invasive probes or sensors.
16. Eclipse Glasses
The next time you watch a solar eclipse, remember that NASA had a big part in making your glasses. On August 21, 2017, millions of people around the world watched as the sun disappeared behind the moon for around 2 minutes and 40 seconds. To prevent damage to people's eyes during this rare occasion, NASA distributed special glasses with solar filters that could be worn to safely observe and enjoy the show.
17. Hybrid Cars
Hybrid cars are now being sold for use in everyday driving by major car manufacturers like Toyota and Honda, but NASA actually invented them in 1977. The initial goal was to create a car that could travel to Mars using the smallest amount of fuel possible. Since then, NASA has continued to research hybrid cars so that they can better understand how they work and how to improve them.