We don't realize it but we live in a world that is vastly influenced by space technology. Had it not been for the boom in space exploration and manned expeditions to Earth's orbit and the Moon, we would not have seen many of the gadgets and objects that we use daily.
Without the brains at NASA, we won't have the access to safety equipment like the fire-fighting suit or more simpler inventions such as the household water purifier.
So, let's revisit some of the things people use daily that were all invented to make lives easier for astronauts in space and people on Earth.
1. Artificial Limbs
NASA has continued to fund the research and development of robotics has inspired many private companies to make more advanced animal and human prostheses.
For example, the development of artificial muscle systems with robotic sensing and actuation capabilities to be used in robotic and extravehicular activities in space has changed the way artificial limbs are made. NASA’s temper foam technology has introduced customizable materials that offer the look and feel of natural flesh to modern-day prostheses.
2. Firefighter Gear
Firefighters are now able to fight the wildest fire without any smoke inhalation injury or fear of burns thanks to NASA's development of a lightweight breathing system for the firefighting suit, including a face mask, frame, harness, and air bottle.
NASA’s inductorless electronic circuit technology was also introduced to include a two-way radio system inside the suit that would come extremely handy while co-ordinating the hose line and rescuing victims.
3. Harnessing Solar Energy
They say curiosity is the mother of inventions. However, necessity is also a strong motivating factor when it comes to coming up with solutions for a problem. Something similar happened when SunPower Corporation created the most advanced silicon-based cells to power the Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology (ERAST), which was created by NASA in collaboration with a 28-member coalition of companies.
This modern, high-performance, low-cost technology is now used in homes across the USA as a successful alternative source of energy and a means to reduce air pollution from coal-based power generation.
4. Water Purification
Perhaps the biggest and the most philanthropic measure taken up by NASA is their latest development of the ultimate water purification system that can turn wastewater from respiration, sweat, and urine into drinkable water. This technology comprises chemical adsorption, ion exchange, and ultrafiltration processes to make sure all the pollutants are removed and pure drinking water is served to people.
In underdeveloped and developing countries, where contaminated wells are the primary sources of drinking water, this technology comes as a boon, provided the respective administrations install the system on a large scale in the remotest areas.
5. Better Camera Software
Did you know that your smartphone would not have a great camera if NASA hadn't existed? In the 1990’s, a Jet Propulsion Laboratory team was looking for ways to shrink cameras down for interplanetary travel. They came up with the camera-on-a-chip, also known as the CMOS sensor.
These days, mobile photography has grown from just a hobby to become a genre itself. All thanks to the brilliant minds at the greatest space research institute in the world.
From the Space to the Ground
In our daily hullabaloo, we often forget the effort that millions of people have put to develop the things we use on a daily basis without a thought of gratitude. There should come moments when we take a step back and appreciate such life-changing inventions. When we hear about space explorations, seldom do we think about all these seemingly uninteresting developments.
But the human mind is a place of miracles and a small problem may often lead to a great solution that can be used to take care of not just aeronautic issues but the daily hindrances of people who lead a rather mundane life on the surface of this planet.