There are those who claim we should be concerned with the Earth and notspace travel and exploration. Those that do not expect climate change to be a problem or a huge meteor to slam into the Earth also claim that the money spent on space is a waste and do not seem to know or mention the many advances made on the final frontier that make it to the Earth frontier.
While I can name many inventions that NASA and space travel enabled: from sleeping comfort (memory foam) to ear thermometers, better airplanes, weather forecasts or computer programs used in cars. Oh, sun glasses that block harmful UV light. Need more? Fire resistant materials such as those used in space suits are now also used for fire-fighters, NASCAR, or hazardous-material handlers. The GPM satellite (JAXA-NASA joint mission) besides offering better 3d weather prediction models also allows various groups that help the hungry around the world to predict six or more months out the area that will have trouble with crops and hence could face starvation. This allows them to move supplies into place in advance of actual need.
Medically we have the artificial heart which is based on a NASA rocket turbo-pump, A nickel-titanium alloy that is used in satellites and now also dental braces. Angioplasty procedures are safer and better done thanks to excimer lasers from NASA’s research on satellite based lasers. LASIK eye surgery also users lasers, smoke detectors come thanks to Skylab space station, and microwave technology (so Sirius and XM channels can also thank NASA) all have their origins in this exploration and out of the box type thinking that NASA brings to the Earth. AND there are 100’s more – from the mundane to the literally can’t live without!
Now they bring us yet another helpful technology that is meant to save lives. NASA Mars rover tech is being adapted in order to hunt gas leaks here on Earth. The technology that helps the rover Curiosity in its search for life on Mars (through searching for Methane) is now being developed to hunt dangerous gas leaks.
Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion lab in California are working with PG & E (Pacific Gas & Electric) in forming a hand held device that will allow the rapid tracking down leaks. This sudden interest comes from a new law requiring California Public Utilities Commission to minimize gas leaks in order to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Additional benefits? Pipeline safety could benefit from the technology. A 2010 pipeline accident resulted in a blast that flattened a neighborhood, killed eight people and injured sixty-six.
Pretty cool, huh? There’s more to come!
NASA is currently managing several experiments that are built off of the hydroponic plants grown on the ISS. Namely a greenhouse/proof of concept test that a participant in the Lunar XPRIZE will drop up on the moon. For them – while they’re in the neighborhood. Then NASA scientists and researchers can monitor plant growth, water them/feed them all from here on Earth. The benefit? Feed the space colony – sure, but where else could we use a technology such as growing produce under the harshest conditions ever….The starving populations certainly could use this technology and honestly could you think of somewhere harder to grow produce than space?
So the next time some naysayer tries to call this space exploration a waste of time point out the many benefits Earth and its inhabitants gain from it!