Thursday, May 15, 2014

What NASA Inventions Do We Use Every Day?

Memory Foam

The next time someone complains about how much money is being spent on the space program, tell them about all of these awesome inventions we wouldn't have without NASA!
Today we mostly use memory foam for things like mattresses and pillows, but it was originally developed by NASA to cushion crash landings and just generally rough takeoffs and reentries. They developed the foam that has a remarkable ability to absorb a lot of pressure and then return to it's original shape. It is also used in helmets and horse saddles.

Water Filter

Astronauts are sometimes stuck up in space for a long time and they still need basick things like water. So how do they get enough of it? Well, NASA invented very sophisticated water filters that allow them to filter their own urine back into water so it is safe to drink. This led to today's slightly less sophisticated technology that most of us use to filter our tap water. Just don't try filtering your own urine through a Brita filter. It won't work.

Invisible Braces

Thanks to NASA, wearing braces is a little less embarassing nowadays. Invisible braces are made with advanced ceramics that are the same materials NASA uses to protect the instruments on heat-seeking missile detectors.


If you love video games, you should give a shout out to NASA because without them, you might not be enjoying them in quite the same way as you are today. They invented the first joystick and it was used to control the Apollo Lunar Rover.


The next time you take a selfie with your phone, say a little thanks to NASA for developing the technology that allows you to do this on the same device that you call your friends on. The way for the tech was paved in the early 1990s when NASA needed smaller cameras for their astronauts to use and hence the chip sized camera was invented which was later put into phones.

Safety Grooving

If you have ever nodded off for a second while driving and been woken up by the safety grooves at the side of the road, thank NASA for saving your behind. They developed this simple yet life saving technology in the 1960s as a way of improving runway safety. They are used to make it safer for airplanes to take off on wet runways. Now they are used on highways for various purposes as well and have led to an 85% reduction in highway accidents!

Cordless Tools

Though the technology for battery powered tools had already been invented by Black & Decker in 1961, NASA went on to refine the technology and add more tools to the list such as the hand held vacuum. In fact, two tools that NASA astronauts used to collect samples from the Moon were a cordless drill and vacuum, both developed by NASA engineers.

In Ear Thermometer

In ear thermometers were developed to make the process quicker and more accurate for nurses who were spending way too much time taking temperatures with old fashioned thermometers. In 1991, the ear thermometer was developed using the same infrared technology that NASA uses to measure the temperature of far away stars.

Scratch Resistant Lenses

Space isn't quite so empty as you might think and NASA needed to develop a way to protect astronaut's equipment such as their visors from being scratched by any particles that might go whizzing by. So they developed a strong scratch resistant coating that is used today on many things including sunglasses and regular glasses and ski goggles.

Workout Machines

Workout machines were originally developed by NASA so that astronauts could use them while in space. It was important so that they could stay fit and prevent muscle atrophy in zero G.

Shoe Insoles

Today's modern athletic shoes use the same technology that NASA's moon boots do. The boots were designed to both ventilate and put extra spring in the astronaut's step, two things athletes would like as well! They use the technology to lessen the impact when your foot hits the ground.

Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors are practically a staple in every house and apartment now but they weren't until NASA invented them in the 1970s. They saw a need for them when they were building their first space station, Skylab. They figured it might be useful if the astronauts were alerted if the station caught on fire so they invented the smoke detector!

Baby Food

When NASA was experimenting with using algae as a food supply for long space trips, it accidentally discovered a part of an algae that has two amino acids that are similar to human breast milk. Ever since 2002, these amino acids have been used to enrich baby food!

Solar Panels

NASA sponsored a 28 company coalition that was the first to have the goal to harvest the sun's energy to generate power. They originally wanted to use it to for an unmanned aircraft that could power itself for days at a time at high altitudes.

Super Soaker

There is a reason why the Super Soaker was such a giant step up from all of the inferior little water guns that came before it. It was invented by a NASA engineer.

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