NASA is all around you. As in, probably right in front of your face. While most of us don’t work in a NASA lab peering at faraway galaxies, studying relics of the Big Bang or theorizing about black holes, we are still surrounded by technology developed by the brains at the space agency. This is why the new NASA Home & City website has created a virtual space where you can digitally walk through buildings and rooms and find out what everyday things actually started out in space.
"Our space technology continues to improve life on Earth,” said acting associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate Jim Reuter. "NASA Home & City is a place of discovery for people, and especially students, who have ever wondered why space exploration should matter to them.”
You might be surprised by which of the 130 spinoff technologies you see every day but never knew were either derived from NASA tech or taken to the next level by NASA partnerships. Besides revealing unexpected NASA stuff you never knew you had, the interactive site shows how government investments in the space agency’s technological advancements have benefits that extend far beyond telescopes and spacecraft.
So what hidden NASA spinoff technology may have touched down in your everyday life? Your water filter was originally designed for Apollo astronauts. It was NASA’s silver ion technology that purified and softened water (which is scarce once you leave Earth’s atmosphere) on board while keeping bacteria from multiplying in the filtering units. That type of system has now been leveled up not just to purify water and prevent gnarly infections, but also to take out any weird residual odors or tastes.
Do you ski or snowboard? It’s the NASA tech in your snow goggles that keeps you from getting blinded on the slopes — thank the filter that blocks the blue light waves in sunlight that are reflected by all that snow and can impair your vision. The everyday heroes otherwise known as firefighters wear fire-resistant polymer fabric whose effectiveness was leveled up by NASA. Wind turbines were originally designed for generating power without sunlight on Mars.
By the way, next time you take a selfie, it’s the NASA-designed image sensor in your phone that makes it possible to plaster your face all over Instagram. It’s the same kind of technology that has seen breathtaking images of distant stars and galaxies. Mind blown.
Want to see where else there you can find NASA tech without a Ph.D. in rocket science? Blast off here.