From memory foam to baby formula, NASA’s coolest inventions regular people use

While NASA has undertaken some incredible tasks and had some spectacular achievements, it has also improved the lives of millions by contributing, directly and indirectly, to the invention of everyday items. Here’s a closer look

FP Explainers September 30, 2022 18:46:40 IST
From memory foam to baby formula, NASA’s coolest inventions regular people use

File image of NASA logo. Twitter@NASA

In September 1962, then US president John F Kennedy made his famed ‘we choose to go to the Moon’ speech in front of 35,000 enthralled spectators.

For all National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s incredible tasks and had some spectacular achievements – slamming a craft into an asteroid and launching a telescope that allows scientists to peer back into the history of the universe come to mind of late – perhaps the greatest remains putting the first man on the Moon in July 1969 a scant seven years after Kennedy’s historic speech.

But did you know NASA is responsible for developing many inventions that regular people use in their daily lives?

Let’s take a closer look at some of these:

Memory foam

Enjoying a good night’s sleep on your mattress and pillows?

Thank NASA for that.

In 1966, still three years away from its most-viewed achievement, NASA’s Ames Research Center, led by engineer Charles Yost, developed temper foam, as per Onlineohio.com. The original purpose of the material, capable of high-energy absorption while being extremely soft, was to serve as protection for airline passengers in case of crash.

From memory foam to baby formula NASAs coolest inventions regular people use

Thank NASA for that good night’s sleep. Image courtesy: News18

Used from automobiles to amusement parks and of course as an aid to help people slumber, memory foam is one of NASA’s greatest inventions.

Cameras in cellphones

Taking a picture with friends or family a dinner out?

The origins of that tiny camera in your cellphone lie with the brains behind NASA.

The agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the 1990s invented a light, miniature imaging system that required little energy in order to take high quality photographs from space, as per USA Today.

This technology has become standard in cell phone and computer cameras.

Computer Mouse

While NASA did not directly create the mouse, it funded the research of the Mouse’s developer at Stanford, as per LifeHacker.com.

NASA’s Bob Taylor, who later moved to Xerox and even further developed the computer mouse, was an early champion of the research.

Baby formula

In the 1980s, searching for a way to support astronauts in space, NASA researchers found that strains of microalgae could be used as an oxygen source, waste disposal catalyst, and as a nutrient supply, as per LifeHacker.com

In 1985, project scientists founded Martek Biosciences Corporation to develop their products – now added to over 90 percent of infant formulas sold in the US, as well as 65 other nations.

Wireless headphones

Today, wireless headphones are ubiquitous.

Of course, this wasn’t always the case.

In the 1960s, after Mercury program astronaut Gus Grissom almost died because his recovery capsule flooded and left his communication equipment shorted out, NASA worked with ITT Labs to develop a portable wireless radio system, as per HowToGeek.com.

From memory foam to baby formula NASAs coolest inventions regular people use

Representational image

ITT Labs chose to build a model around one of Planctronics’ aviation headsets, which led to NASA directly working with the company.

All the fancy headphones used today come as a result of NASA’s efforts.

Scratch resistant and UV lenses

Those cool shades you’re wearing, perhaps while walking slowly and pretending you’re in a Tarantino movie?

Also developed by NASA.

The space agency, looking to protect astronauts from ultraviolet light and make their visors more resistant to scratching, NASA researchers, worked with the Foster Grant eyeglass company, as per How To Geek.

The non-scratch coatings made by Theodore Wydeven at NASA’s Ames Research Center have been used in millions of sunglasses and other surfaces.

CAT Scan

Going to get checked out at a hospital?

The CAT scans and MRIs come from NASA tech originally used to recreate images of the moon during the Apollo missions, as per USA Today.

Water filters

The clean water we drink has a lot to do with NASA

In the 1970s, the space agency, seeking safe water for astronauts, developed filtration systems that used iodine and cartridge filters, as per USA Today.

This filtering technology is now standard.

Better tires

NASA collaborated with Goodyear Tire in the 197Os develop stronger materials for the parachute shrouds used on the Viking landers, as per How To Geek.

When Goodyear used the same material for their tire design, it resulted in the strength of a traditional steel-radial tire being increased by up to five times and tread life getting extended.

GPS

Are you lost? Cellphone can’t connect to the nearest tower? Worry not.

The GPS on your phone comes courtesy of NASA tech.

As per Yahoo, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory developed precision GPS with data streamed from its global network of GPS receivers, which is now used by many cellphones.

With inputs from agencies

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