It was inevitable that the advances in space exploration would permeate other markets and spark change in the economy. NASA themselves acknowledge this influence in their web features NASA City and NASA @ Home. NASA uses these platforms in order to identify the areas of our lives that are so critically affected by space. This week, to commemorate World UFO Day on 2nd July, this article will investigate advances that have filtered into everyday life: from baby food to prosthetics; our lives are far more out of this world than we could have ever anticipated.
NASA has facilitated real-time weather visualisation and forecasting. From high-resolution 3D maps of space, to real-time tracking of the Space Station. NASA collaborates with Google in order to tackle technical problems from large-scale data management to widely distributed computing, to human-computer interfaces. NASA permanently operates on the brink of innovation. But while they’re busy liaising with organisations such as InterSense to develop software for virtual reality, we’re reliably and continually informed of the global weather forecasts.
NASA has also found its way into food safety systems. When eating in space, it’s paramount to eliminate crumbs of food that could potentially contaminate the spacecraft’s atmosphere, and to refute the possibility of disease-producing bacteria and toxins. NASA’s response? Pillsbury, a Minneapolis based refrigerated foods company, developed the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point concept. ‘HACCP’ was created to prevent food safety problems as opposed to resolving them once they’ve already occurred. Its effectiveness persuaded the US Food and Drug Administration to adopt their guidelines for the handling of seafood, juice and dairy products. However, NASA isn’t just embedded in the regulations of food. Infant formulas owe NASA for a nutritional enrichment that was discovered during NASA-sponsored research that addressed the use of algae as a recycling agent. This enrichment boasts two essential polyunsaturated fatty acids called Docosahexaenoic acid and Arachidonic acid. These acids are widely believed by researchers to be associated with mental and visual development. Consequently, the substance is now used in over 90% of infant formulas in the United States, and is added to infant formulas in 65 additional countries.
NASA’s funding, coupled with its skilled innovators, has pioneered developments in robotics and shock-absorption/comfort materials which are enabling better solutions for both animal and human prosthetics. Environmental Robots Inc.’s development of artificial muscle systems with robotic sensing and actuation capabilities for use in NASA are being adapted to create more functionally dynamic artificial limbs. Not only this, but through the development of NASA’s temper foam technology, custom-mouldable materials are available to offer a look and feel of natural flesh, whilst preventing friction between the skin and the prosthetic. An innovation that stands to rejuvenate the lives of those with handicaps.
it seems that through its space discovery, NASA continually stumbles upon innovations that are shaping everyday lives. In the words of Bill Nye, ‘NASA is an engine of innovation and inspiration.’ And its advancement races forward, as on the morning of Tuesday 5th July it was announced that after a journey that took five years Juno, a solar-powered space craft, managed to infiltrate Jupiter’s orbit. Over the next 20 months, Juno will provide NASA with intimate details regarding Jupiter’s interior and atmosphere; before eventually appeasing the hostile environment and falling back to Earth. Journalist Michael Slezak writes: ‘[right now] we watch wide-eyed, eager to learn about [Jupiter], and in doing so, learn more about how we all got here.’