As we go about our everyday life we are enjoying the benefits of what NASA does and, most of the time, we are completely unaware of this space agency’s contribution. As NASA develops new technologies that are vital to mission success or products designed for a specific purpose, there is almost always a “spin-off” product or technology that reaches the Earthling market that makes things a little better for humanity.
How many of us have mixed up a bottle of baby formula or spooned a jar of peas and carrots into the hungry mouth of a toddler? If you have, you were giving that baby space food. Almost one hundred percent of commercially sold infant formula is infused with a natural omega-3 fatty acid ingredient discovered while researching life support technology for the Mars mission. The next generation of Earthlings will have healthier brains, eyes and hearts thanks to NASA.
If you’re reading this article on my blog, then you’ve also probably seen the videos I’ve been posting reading books aloud. The technology used in my laptop camera as well as cellphone cameras are all NASA inspired inventions. Astronauts needed to miniaturize cameras in order to save as much space as possible as they packed and organized supplies for their space missions.
And, how many of my dear readers have ever flown in a great big airplane? Chances are, all of you. You know when you look up at a low-flying passenger jet and see those little up-turned wingtips and wonder just what the heck those things are? Well, the ever curious gringa asks that question every single time I see one. Those things are called “winglets”. These little aerodynamic dynamos are saving airlines billions of dollars in fuels and it’s all thanks to the research and development that goes on at NASA. When NASA develops technology in order to save the taxpayers a dime or two, that technology is eventually shared with companies so they can save a dime or two which then means the tax-paying consumer gets to save another dime or two when they shell out the dough for their airfare.
How many of us have “Google Earthed” our physical addresses to see what pops up on the satellite image? Yes, the curious gringa does this all the time. The accuracy of our current GPS technology is also thanks to the efforts of research and development at NASA. Everyone, everywhere, all over this globe, benefit in some form or fashion from this technology. I tell the caveman all the time to remember that my GPS locator is always activated on my cellphone so if anyone kidnaps me, and lets me keep my phone, he can find me. He assures me that if I remain my true, “Chatty Cathy” self they will certainly let me go so I need not waste the battery power. But, even if they don’t tire of my incessant chatter and question asking, he’ll come looking for me in a day or so.
That is when the gringa goes off for a pout by curling up with a good book in her space bed. Surely you know what I mean? That greatest invention mankind has ever come up with for people with back problems? You know, the memory foam mattress! Good Lord, over the years I have had so many falls with seizures and received neck and back injuries as a result, that I prayed for a non-gravity sleep chamber or a wind tunnel sleep chamber that wouldn’t put any pressure on my neck, hips or back no matter what position I might lay in. Well, the memory foam is the next best thing and a decent compromise. I’m able to get a relatively pain-free night’s sleep now because astronauts needed a material that would help keep them comfortable during times of extreme acceleration. Thank you, NASA, from the bottom of the ginga’s little heart.
I love watching law enforcement reality shows. One of my favorite types to watch is search and rescue. When I see the Coast Guard rushing to respond to a distress beacon for some poor crew of fishermen or pleasure sailors who have gotten themselves into trouble, once again NASA has been the source for a vital live-saving device. Without the satellites that NASA has deployed into Earth’s orbit, there would be no relay device for their distress signals.
The “greenies” out there can also feel some affinity toward the space agency for reducing big rig fuel consumption by almost 7,000 gallons annually per truck because of the NASA inspired new aerodynamic designs most modern rigs sport. As you pass one of these eighteen-wheelers on a bridge, you can feel secure because most modern bridges feature state of the art shock absorbers bracing them in place, technology originating with NASA in their efforts to develop technology to help astronauts survive the extreme effects of rocket launches.
One of the gringa’s favorite technology sharing tidbits of information regarding NASA, and, yes, even more of a favorite than my awesome memory foam mattress, are the vulnerable people around the world that are able to have access to clean drinking water. Water purification devices that are used today on the small scale of an individual, reusable, filtering water bottle or a hand held device that can provide clean water for an entire village is all thanks to the humanitarian mission of NASA. Growing up in the jungle and having to boil river water was how my caveman grew up. Needless to say, as a child, he and his siblings often suffered water-borne, internal, parasitic infections. There is a very soft spot in the gringa’s heart toward NASA for making it possible for many children around the world to improve the quality of their life and enjoy something I take for granted every day.
As I ponder the amazing contributions astronauts and scientists at NASA make to our world, I can’t help but flash a smile. And, thanks to one more of NASA’s greatest inventions of all time, invisible orthodontic braces, the gringa smiles boldly instead of covering that grin with a hand, embarrassed by crooked teeth and crazy fangs. Thanks, NASA, for not only inspiring fantastic dreams of space exploration but also for making everyday life a little bit better for everyone everywhere!