NASA wraps up its year of technogifts

NASA takes its responsibility to inform and educate the public seriously. Since 1976, the space agency has published its Spinoff report at the end of each year that highlights 40 to 50 commercialized products or technologies that came into existence as spinoffs from agency efforts.

In this year's Spinoff report NASA's 'Invention of the Year' for 2007 was the macro-fiber composite ' a low-cost device designed to control vibration, noise and deflections in composite structural beams and panels. The technology is now used in more than 120 products, including sporting goods, automobiles, aircraft and spacecraft, the agency said.

Among other spinoff technologies the agency highlighted are:
  • A network of environmental sensors, based on devices worn by astronauts, that are providing health care workers in urban centers with information about water quality and disease outbreaks from remote, hard-to-reach areas
  • Imaging software for noninvasive heart monitoring based on software designed to interpret spacecraft imagery
  • A hyperspectral crop-imaging project to enhance airborne hyperspectral sensing and ground-truthing means for crop inspection. Areas of application include precision farming and irrigation; oil, gas and mineral exploration; pollution and contamination monitoring; wetland and forestry characterization; water quality assessment; and submerged aquatic vegetation mapping.
  • A flattening process to translate the surface geometry of a model to a 2-D template.

    NASA also maintains a hall of fame for spinoffs. Inductees this year were the emulsified zero-valent iron (from Spinoff 2005) that cleans up contaminated groundwater, and the microbial check valve (from Spinoff 2006) that filters water to make it safe for drinking.

About the Author

Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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