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Spinoff 2016 Highlights Space Technologies Used in Daily Life on Earth


NASA technology is all around us, turning trash into oil, saving women from a deadly complication of childbirth, and putting the bubbles in beer.

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Credit: MicroLink Devices

Thanks to an innovative process developed in part with NASA funding, MicroLink devices has created thin, flexible solar cells that could be used to help power space exploration.

These technologies and more are featured in the 2016 edition of NASA’s annual Spinoff publication, highlighting the many places NASA shows up in daily life and the aeronautics and space programs where the innovations got their start.

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Credit: MicroLink Devices

U.S. troops in desert regions are already using MicroLink Devices’ flexible, lightweight solar arrays to recharge batteries, saving them from having to carry spares. The arrays were developed in part with NASA funding.

“Technology transfer is the agency’s oldest continuously operated mission, but our work is ongoing and of continuing significance,” said NASA Chief Technologist David Miller.

“Today there are many new technologies being developed at NASA, and we are hard at work accelerating the rate at which they end up in the hands of companies and organizations that can put them to use in spinoff applications.”

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Credit: NASA

This biomedical testing module, developed at Ames Research Center, serves as a home away from home for mice traveling to space. Previous experiments aboard space shuttles contributed to the development of new drugs now fighting osteoporosis on Earth.

In the 2016 Spinoff, learn how:

Under the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative, NASA scientists helped a company develop a commercial kiln that turns waste plastic into useful petroleum products;
G-suits used to help pilots and astronauts withstand extreme acceleration have been adapted to save women suffering from postpartum hemorrhage;
A system designed to transform the Martian atmosphere into rocket fuel is helping microbreweries recapture carbon dioxide and carbonate their beer.
Other highlights include how NASA research on bone strength in microgravity validated a new treatment for osteoporosis, and software that uses satellite data to help stabilize global food prices by tracking and predicting rice crop yields.

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Credit: Vadxx Energy

President Barack Obama learns about technology that recycles plastic into light crude oil from Vadxx Energy president Jim Garrett during a March 18, 2015 visit. NASA’s Glenn Research Center assisted in th4e development of the process through the Adopt a City program, part of the White House’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative.

Published annually since 1976, Spinoff offers an in-depth look at technologies that improve health and medicine, transportation, public safety, consumer goods, energy and environment, information technology and industrial productivity.

“Innovations made to advance space exploration regularly make an impact back on our own planet,” said Daniel Lockney, NASA’s Technology Transfer Program executive. “You can find NASA technology in virtually every facet of modern life.”

These spinoffs contribute to the country’s economic growth by generating billions of dollars in revenue and creating thousands of jobs.

The book also includes a section, “Spinoffs of Tomorrow,” that highlights 20 technologies ripe for commercial adaptations, including a coating inspired by lotus leaves that protects surfaces from water, dust and contaminants and a battery management system that can inexpensively extend battery life and improve reliability. All are available for licensing and partnership opportunities through NASA’s Technology Transfer Program.

Spinoff, NASA’s premier annual publication, is a part of the agency’s Technology Transfer Program. The program is charged with finding the widest possible applications of NASA technology through partnerships and licensing agreements with industry, ensuring that NASA’s investments in its missions and research find secondary applications that benefit the nation and world.

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