Special Report

30 NASA Inventions We Use Everyday

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16. CAT scans

NASA’s digital signal technology, originally used to recreate images of the moon during the Apollo missions, is the underlying technology that makes CAT scans and MRIs possible.

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17. Baby formula

A nutritious, algae-based vegetable oil invented by NASA scientists who were searching for a recycling agent to use during long space missions is now an additive in many infant formulas. It contains two essential fatty acids that cannot be synthesized by the human body.

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18. Lifeshears

The pyrotechnic mechanism used to detach a space shuttle from its rocket boosters after launching is the same used in Lifeshears, but on a smaller scale. Lifeshears are a tool that can be utilized in emergency situations to cut into cars or collapsed buildings to rescue people trapped inside.

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19. Grooved pavement

While searching for ways to increase safety during shuttle landings, NASA scientists discovered that cutting grooves into the runway helped channel water and significantly reduce hydroplaning. Many highways and airports now have grooved pavement.

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20. Air purifiers

In the sealed, artificial environment of a spacecraft, attempts to grow plants have led to the buildup of ethylene, which hastens decay. NASA invented an air purifier for the International Space Station that is now used widely on Earth — everywhere from restaurants, to hospitals, to refrigerators — to remove ethylene as well as other particulates and pathogens.

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