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Spinoff Spotlight Archives
Low-plasticity burnishing technique
Low-plasticity burnishing technique

Burnishing Techniques Strengthen Hip Implants
It might seem counterintuitive, but stress can make materials sturdier. A technique demonstrated with NASA funding applies a deep layer of compressive residual stress to strengthen hip implants and increase their lifespan by 100 times.
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Tail rotor Tail Rotor

Tail Rotor Airfoils Stabilize Helicopters, Reduce Noise
Virtually every flying vehicle in operation has benefited from NASA advancements, and the helicopter is no exception. Airfoils designed and wind-tunnel tested at Langley Research Center have a lifetime twice that of the original equipment manufacturer blade and reduce noise by 40 percent.
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Parachute system  Parachutes rescue system


Rocket-Powered Parachutes Rescue Entire Planes
NASA-funded technology has saved 261 lives to date. A whole aircraft parachute system, capable of arresting the descent of a small aircraft, deploys in less than one second to lower small aircraft safely to the ground.
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Shoe insoles with aerogel

Aerogels Insulate Against Extreme Temperatures
In its pure form, aerogel feels like fragile pumice. Because of its insulating properties, NASA worked with a private company to develop a flexible form of the material. New applications now protect people’s hands and feet.
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An aspheric stitching interferometer

Stitching Techniques Advance Optics Manufacturing
To look deep into space, NASA telescopes require large, specialized mirrors. While NASA funding helped to advance the equipment used to make such specialized mirrors for the Agency’s needs, it also enabled the optics industry to make and measure the parts it needed.
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Energy servers at eBay’s corporate campus

Energy Servers Deliver Clean, Affordable Power
A NASA innovation designed for Mars is wasting no time providing benefits here on Earth. Fortune 500 companies across the country are running on clean power generated by technology originally developed to produce fuel and oxygen for pioneering astronauts on the Red Planet.
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Network of veins and arteries

Signal Processing Methods Monitor Cranial Pressure
While a regular heartbeat may seem consistent, it actually varies quite a bit. A set of algorithms developed by Dr. Norden Huang of Goddard Space Flight Center to analyze nonlinear and nonstationary signals can now diagnose and predict brain blood-flow related problems, such as stroke and dementia.
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An eight-camera digital video system with a pen for size comparison

Onboard Systems Record Unique Videos of Space Missions
Work performed on multiple NASA missions—including the celebrated Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS)—has helped one company provide engineers and the general public with video of space from a unique perspective: that of the rockets and spacecraft themselves.
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A postage stamp-size biosensor holding millions of carbon nanotubes EV MINI Cooper NASA Logo

Inflatable Antennas Support Emergency Communications
When a disaster strikes, communications are essential to a quick and organized response. NASA funding supported the development of inflatable antenna technology that is readily deployed to provide high-bandwidth communications in emergency situations and remote locations.
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Aircraft with winglets Paragon diving suit NASA Homepage

Winglets Save Billions of Dollars in Fuel Costs
Fold up the wingtips on a paper airplane and it will fly farther. Proven for actual aircraft by NASA researchers and improved upon by a commercial aviation partnership, similar aerodynamic features called blended winglets have saved airlines billion of gallons of fuel.
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A two-bladed rotor of an Aerostar wind turbine

Modeling Innovations Advance Wind Energy Industry
In 1981, Glenn Research Center scientist Dr. Larry Viterna developed a model that predicted certain elements of wind turbine performance with far greater accuracy than previous methods. The model was met with derision from others in the wind energy industry, but years later, Viterna discovered it had become the most widely used method of its kind, enabling significant wind energy technologies that are providing sustainable, climate friendly energy sources today.
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An astronaut holds an ultrasound device to another astronaut’s eyes.

Image-Capture Devices Extend Medicine’s Reach
NASA’s Advanced Diagnostic Ultrasound in Microgravity (ADUM) experiment led to the development of revolutionary medical ultrasound diagnostic techniques for long-distance use, including frame-grabber and data archiving technology that enables ultrasound users with minimal training to send diagnostic-quality ultrasound images and video to medical professionals via the Internet in near-real time—allowing patients as varied as professional athletes, Olympians, and mountain climbers to receive medical attention as soon as it is needed.
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Two scientists examine a bioreactor.

NASA Bioreactors Advance Disease Treatments
Houston-based biotechnology firm Regenetech Inc. acquired the licenses for NASA bioreactor technology from Johnson Space Center. The NASA bioreactor, which allows for the rapid cultivation of healthy cells in simulated weightlessness, is now the foundation of Regenetech’s thriving intellectual property business that is providing researchers with the tools to make adult stem cell therapy—a potential source of treatment for conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and sickle cell anemia—viable for the public.
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A postage stamp-size biosensor holding millions of carbon nanotubes EV MINI Cooper NASA Logo

Sensors Provide Early Warning of Biological Threats
Research into detecting biological traces on Mars brought about biosensor technology now being used to monitor water quality. Incorporating carbon nanotubes tipped with single strands of nucleic acid from waterborne pathogens, the sensor can detect even minute amounts of targeted, disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. It can alert organizations to potential biological hazards in water used for agriculture, food and beverages, showers, and at beaches and lakes—within hours instead of the days required by conventional laboratory methods.
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Three different types of Givens Buoy life rafts Paragon diving suit NASA Homepage

Apollo-Era Life Rafts Save Hundreds of Sailors
To keep astronaut life rafts from capsizing after Apollo-era splashdown landings, NASA designed a self-righting life raft capable of resisting tipping in rough seas. Givens Marine Survival Co. Inc., licensed this invention and now manufactures and markets the rescue rafts in a variety of sizes and models for everything from sailboats to larger ocean-going vessels. To date, Givens has sold several thousand of the rafts, and this space-age technology is credited with saving the lives of over 450 sailors.
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Two scientists inspect soybeans grown in space.

Air Purifiers Eliminate Pathogens, Preserve Food
NASA-funded researchers produced an ethylene reduction device for a plant growth unit. KES Science and Technology Inc. licensed the technology and partnered with Akida Holdings, which now markets it as AiroCide. According to the company, it is the only air purifier that completely destroys airborne bacteria, mold, fungi, mycotoxins, viruses, volatile organic compounds (like ethylene), and odors. What’s more, the devices have no filters and produce no harmful byproducts, such as the ozone created by some filtration systems.
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Dryden also modified a tractor-trailer to test and modify drag.

Aerodynamics Research Revolutionizes Truck Design
Vehicle design has seen radical improvements thanks in large part to NASA aerodynamics research. Starting in the 1970s, researchers at Dryden Flight Research Center conducted numerous tests to refine the shape of trucks to reduce aerodynamic drag and improve efficiency. During the 1980s and 1990s, a team based at Langley Research Center explored controlling drag and the flow of air around a moving body. This research has revolutionized truck design.
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Wireless fluid-level measurement system in boat’s deck

Wireless Fluid-Level Measurement System Equips Boat Owners
While developing a measurement system for fluids on aging aircraft, Langley Research Center developed an innovative wireless fluid-level measurement system. The NASA technology was of interest to Tidewater Sensors LLC, of Newport News, Virginia, because of its many advantages over conventional fuel management systems, including its ability to provide an accurate measurement of volume while a boat isexperiencing any rocking motion due to waves or people moving about on the boat. These advantages led the company to license this novel fluid-level measurement system from NASA for marine applications.
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firefighter

Polymer Fabric Protects Firefighters, Military, and Civilians
In 1967, NASA contracted with Celanese Corporation, of New York, to develop a line of fire-resistant  textiles for use in space suits and vehicles. The resulting technology, PBI, is now used in numerous firefighting, military, motor sports, and other applications.
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EV MINI Cooper EV MINI Cooper

Lithium Battery Power Delivers Electric Vehicles to Market
A manufacturer of lithium-ion battery electric vehicles entered into a Space Act Agreement with Kennedy Space Center to determine the utility of lithium-powered fleet vehicles. NASA contributed engineering expertise for the car’s advanced battery management system and tested a fleet of zero-emission vehicles on the Kennedy campus. The company now offers a series of lithium electric vehicles aimed at the urban and commuter markets.
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Paragon diving suit Paragon diving suit

Space Suit Technologies Protect Deep-Sea Divers
Through its work with NASA, a company has developed a suit for protecting divers who are called on to work in extreme and dangerous conditions, such as high pressure, toxic chemical spills, the hot waters of the Persian Gulf, and among chemical warfare agents.
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LZR Racer swimsuit covering the torso and legs of a swimmer

Space Age Swimsuit Reduces Drag, Breaks Records
Because of NASA’s experience in studying the forces of friction and drag, Speedo asked the Agency to help design a swimsuit for racing. The resulting suit reduces skin friction drag 24 percent more than the previous Speedo racing suit. The research seems to have paid off; 94 percent of gold medals in swimming at the 2008 Olympics were won in the new Speedo suit.
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Skylab food heating and serving tray Skylab food heating and serving tray

Space Research Fortifies Nutrition Worldwide
An experiment into regenerative ecosystems evolved into one of the most widespread NASA spinoffs of all time—a method for manufacturing an algae-based food supplement that provides the nutrients previously only available in breast milk. A NASA partner now manufactures this supplement, and it can be found in over 90 percent of the infant formulas sold in the United States, as well as those sold in over 65 other countries.
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Thin metal lead wires use NASA-developed polymer insulation. Thin metal lead wires use NASA-developed polymer insulation.

Polymer Coats Leads on Implantable Medical Device
An advanced material developed by NASA is now being used on thin metal wires connected to its implantable cardiac resynchronization therapy devices, for patients experiencing heart failure. The devices resynchronize the contractions of the heart’s ventricles by sending tiny electrical impulses to the heart muscle, helping the heart pump blood throughout the body more efficiently.
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The Gigapan robotic platform holds a digital camera.

Mars Cameras Make Panoramic Photography a Snap
Wide-screen panoramic photography technologies developed for the Mars rovers have found more “down-to-Earth” photographic and virtual exploration applications for consumers. With industry partners, NASA scientists created a prototype for the Gigapan robotic platform for consumer cameras, which automates the creation of highly detailed digital panoramas.
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ResQPOD circulation-enhancing device

Circulation-Enhancing Device Improves CPR
A small medical device developed to correct circulation problems for astronauts returning to Earth is now being used in CPR by emergency medical technicians.
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Non-invasive CIMT procedure

Noninvasive Test Detects Cardiovascular Disease
Based on software designed to interpret spacecraft imagery, a simple and affordable system now allows doctors to use ultrasound to perform advanced, noninvasive heart monitoring.
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Macro-Fiber Composite flexing

‘NASA Invention of the Year’ Controls Noise and Vibration
The Macro-Fiber Composite, NASA’s “Invention of the Year,” is an innovative, low-cost piezoelectric device designed to control vibration, noise, and deflections in composite structural beams and panels.
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Map of United States depicting air traffic

Comprehensive Software Eases Air Traffic Management
NASA-developed air traffic management software tools are helping to streamline the flow of commercial flights across the National Airspace System.
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Space shuttle on crawler

New Lubricants Protect Machines and the Environment
Originally designed for the space shuttle crawlers at Kennedy Space Center, an ecologically friendly lubricant is now available for consumer use.
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Picture of the Bio Sock bilge system wrapped with boating rope

The Proven Solution for Cleaning Up Oil Spills
Industry scientists worked with researchers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Marshall Space Flight Center in the early 1990s to develop a petroleum remediation product, PRP, now available to consumers and industry that enables them to safely and permanently clean petroleum-based pollutants from water.
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A farmer uses a touch screen console mounted on his tractor to control Auto steer

Saving Space and Time: The Tractor That Einstein Built
Remote-controlled tractors with a margin of error of one centimeter are the result of work done by Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists who designed ultra-precise GPS for use on a satellite probe sent to test two unverified predictions of Einstein’s theory of relativity.
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The green anti icing liquid is pictured here in a glass on top of an airplane wing

Preventing Ice Before it Forms
An environmentally-friendly formula for preventing ice on airplanes is now available as a non-toxic spray for automobile windshields and can provide anti-icing rotection down to 20 °F.
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hand pressing in on foam

Forty-Year-Old Foam Springs Back With New Benefits
The most recognized and widely used NASA spinoff is at it again. Temper foam celebrated its 40th birthday in 2006, and the original product maker is still going strong, pushing the cushion into new arenas, including automotives, amusement parks, prosthetics, and modern art.
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The robotic courier navigates through medical facilities

A Robot to Help Make the Rounds
In 1995, NASA supported the conception of a two-armed, mobile, sensate research-robot that could demonstrate the skills required to carry out robotic tasks in space. Today, a derivation of this robot is flexing its skills in the skilled health care environment.
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anthrax smoke detector

Keeping the Air Clean and Safe—An Anthrax Smoke Detector
No one is quite sure what Earthly germs would do on Mars, but scientists agree that it is safest to keep the Martian terrain as undisturbed as possible.  A team at JPL developed a bacterial spore-detection system for Mars-bound spacecraft that can also recognize anthrax and other harmful, spore-forming bacteria on Earth and alert people of the impending danger.
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Worker in a cleanroom at the plant in Taiwan

Bringing Thunder and Lightning Indoors
Scientists at Langley developed a piezoelectric device that is now available to the public as the Lightning Switch, a wireless, batteryless, remote-controlled light switch—a way to install or replace light switches without any new wiring and without batteries. It installs in minutes and can save hundreds of dollars per switch in rewiring costs, but its usefulness does not stop there…
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Liquidmetal alloy possesses superior elasticity


Amorphous Alloy Surpasses Steel and Titanium
In the same way that the inventions of steel in the 1800s and plastic in the 1900s sparked revolutions for industry, a new class of amorphous alloys is poised to redefine materials science as we know it in the 21st century.
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sun shield on the exterior of the Sky lab space station


Reflecting on Space Benefits: A Shining Example
The shiny, reflective radiant barrier technology used to protect people and equipment on virtually all manned and unmanned NASA space missions is in use all over Earth, protecting people from the elements.
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Dodge racecar

From Rockets to Racecars
Low-temperature oxidation catalysts developed to enhance the operational life of carbon dioxide lasers are being used in the high-speed motor sports arena as air purifiers, so professional racecar drivers do not get carbon monoxide poisoning.
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The XMC-2 ILC Full Pressure Suit

Space Suit Spins
Over several decades, the manufacturer of NASA’s space suits has managed to develop a wide range of uses for the space-born textiles, with applications ranging from pharmaceutical manufacturing to the creation of lighter-than-air vehicles.
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Five monitors show a patient’s vital signs


Space-Proven Medical Monitor: The Total Patient-Care Package
Monitoring man’s biophysical reactions to space has played an important role in developing better patient-monitoring systems here on Earth.
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NASA log - Link Office of the chief technologist Image of cover Spinoff 2010 NASA Hallmarks of success videos