When Dwight D Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, in 1958, I wonder if he had any inkling of what kind of an impact that action would have on the world. Not only did the act create the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), but also DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency).
DARPA later went on to contribute significantly to the creation of the Internet and several other technologies we use each day (like GPS), but let’s focus on what came from NASA research. Everyone knows the many accomplishments of NASA in regards to space exploration; Apollo Missions, Moon Landing, International Space Station, etc. But what about all the other technologies we use that have come from NASA research?
10: Invisible Braces
9: Scratch-resistant Lenses
8: Memory Foam
7: Ear Thermometer
6: Shoe Insoles
5: Long-distance Telecommunications
4: Adjustable Smoke Detector
3: Safety Grooving
2: Cordless Tools
1: Water Filters
And that’s not to mention the personal computer. NASA didn’t create the personal computer, but they developed a lot of the technology that made it possible. Without the advances of NASA research to create faster and smaller computing devices, the personal computer would have taken decades longer to be developed.
With recent accomplishments like the Mars Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity), the International Space Station, and the many Shuttle Missions, it’s crazy that some feel that NASA should be discontinued. That debate will be saved for another article as there are some legitimate arguments.
But what about the last accomplishment of NASA. Yesterday, the Phoenix Mars Lander successfully touched down in the northern polar region of Mars. It’s objective is to analyze the icy (permafrost) soil to find signs of life.
After a 10-month flight (and 422 million miles — and $420 million), Phoenix touched down lightly at 4:38 p.m. PDT. Needless to say, the boys at JPL were both extremely relieved and utterly excited. Check out the very cool video describing Phoenix’s landing.
Add Phoenix to the 2 rovers and the Mars Orbiter and NASA has Mars pretty much covered. All we need now is to send someone there. If you ask my oldest (5 yrs old), she wants to be the first one to go to Mars. She wants to go “change the batteries” for Phoenix seeing as it will only be “alive” for 90 days (until the the Martian winter starts and no longer receives solar rays to charge it’s batteries).