Space travel, it’s not for us mere mortals. Unless you’re a super smart scientist or an infinitely rich entrepreneur with money to burn (Elon Musk, we’re looking at you!) the chances of you spending your holidays dancing among the stars, exploring the moon or taking a selfie with the Earth in the background are… slim, shall we say?
But, it’s not just super smart scientists and billionaire entrepreneurs that get the benefit from space travel. Now, you may or may not know but the hard work of the scientists and brain boxes over at NASA actually has a direct impact on how we live now. And it’s not just in beautiful pictures of space., oh no.
Space travel has actually directly impacts the modern technology we get to use and benefit from everyday, right here on earth. Everything from the phones we now have glued to our hands to life-saving medical technology, space really is the place to be when it comes to being at the forefront of some of the most exciting technological advancements on earth. Let’s take a look at just a few.
You may be surprised, but the camera phone wasn’t actually invented for the selfie – despite how much we may have come to love Instagram these days. The teeny-tiny cameras we now pose into were actually created for a space mission, back in the 1990s.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory at NASA were tasked with designing a camera that was small enough to fit inside a spacecraft (no bulky SLRs and sophisticated tripods in a space-bound capsule!) but that maintained the highest resolution camera quality possible. And thus, the technology that makes the modern camera phone was born!
And did you know that nearly ⅓ of all mobile cell phones contain the technology that was invented by the Jet Propulsion Lab team over 20 years ago?
Laptops and Mouses
You know all those Netflix shows you love to watch, curled up with your laptop in bed? Or how about the online slot casino games on website like RoseSlots.com
that you reach for when you fancy a flutter, but don’t want to leave the comfort of your couch? Well, without the brain boxes at Nasa, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy portable computer technology or the humble mouse, helping us to navigate across the screen. It would be a very different world without those, we reckon!
First there was the GRID compass laptop – the first computer that folded the screen over the laptop. This was modified and fitted into a 1983 NASA mission and renamed the SPOC (Shuttle Portable On-Board Computer). This then formed the basis for the consumer targeted laptop, the market went wild and the rest is history. We don’t know what we’d do without a laptop, and we’re glad that thanks to space travel, we never have to find out!
We’re heading back over to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the next space innovation to change the way the world works, but this time it’s all about medical technology. More specifically, the CAT Scanner.
Okay, so we may not have one of these lying around at home, and it’s definitely not a consumer product, but there’s no doubt that these machines have saved countless lives by being able to produce digital images of the inside of the body.
First developed for us on the Apollo moon landing missions, the initial idea was to be able to use computers to enhance images of the moon when the mission landed there and transmitted pictures back. This was then transformed into an array of diagnostic equipment including the CT, CAT Scan and MRI machines.
LEDs (or Light Emitting Diodes, as they’re more formally known) are amazing. These tiny red lights are used for all many of things here on earth. Did you know that there are now machines that are able to ease and even heal human pain – from mild joint stiffness all the way through to rheumatoid arthritis and muscle spasms.
Some dermatologists also use LED technology to battle scar tissue and pigmentation of the skin.
But… what’s this got to do with space travel? LEDs were developed initially by NASA to support plant life up in space. Yep, you read that right! It was all part of an experiment to see if LED light could replicate the sun’s nourishing rays and help plants to grow while on board space craft! Now a team of former NASA scientists has a company that makes LED grow lights that can be used here on earth.
Originally called the Vegetable Production System (affectionately nicknamed Veggie) the cluster of LEDs has successfully grown a variety of plants, including three types of lettuce, Chinese cabbage, mizuna mustard, red Russian kale and zinnia flowers.
Honestly, where would we be without wireless technology. We can barely think back to a time when we had to use the traditional landline to get access to the internet, much less not being able to roam around and access the world wide web wherever we were and at the touch of a button!
But yes, we have NASA to thank for the ever-expanding range of wireless technology we have to take advantage of (and take for granted!).
One of the first wireless technology advancements made by NASA was the wireless headphones. We know, it was a surprise to us too when we found out that it wasn’t actually Dr Dre and his Beats that pioneered that piece of modern day tech! The wireless headset was actually designed as a less-bulky alternative for airline pilots in the Second World War.
Fast forward 20 years and the start of the NASA Apollo missions in the early 60s. NASA scientists took the original wireless headphone prototype from decades earlier and refined it so that it was sleek and slimline enough for their astronauts to wear with ease while floating around in space.
And did you know, Neil Armstrong’s famous ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’ quotation was spoken through one of the early descendents of our beloved wireless headsets. Thanks NASA!