Fourth Industrial Revolution

False limbs. Mattresses. Baby milk. The surprising use of space technology on earth

The sun reflects off the water in this picture taken by German astronaut Alexander Gerst from the International Space Station and sent on his Twitter feed July 17, 2014.   REUTERS/Alexander Gerst/NASA/Handout via Reuters (OUTER SPACE - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY ENVIRONMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) ATTENTION EDITORS ? THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - RTR3Z1IC

A different perspective: breakthroughs in space can be useful for life on earth Image: REUTERS/Alexander Gerst/NASA/

Rachel Hallett
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Fourth Industrial Revolution

When NASA was formed in 1958 its main objective was to put an American on the moon before the Russians got there. The Space Race and later missions required massive innovation

Many of those scientific and technological breakthroughs had an impact far beyond the space program. Everyday objects we now take for granted were invented as part of NASA’s mission to explore space.

Some of the best are being showcased on NASA’s new interactive web features, NASA City and NASA @ Home.

1. Artificial Limbs

Many of the parts used in modern artificial limbs were developed for space vehicles. Diamond coatings make joints last longer and special foams make prosthetics more comfortable. Advanced robotics make artificial limbs operate more like the real thing.

Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman walks across the finish line after a wreath laying ceremony at the sites of the Boston Marathon bombings on Boylston Street in Boston, Massachusetts, April 15, 2016. REUTERS/Mary Schwalm     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Image: REUTERS/Mary Schwalm

2. Cardiac Implants

Around 80 British patients a year are fitted with a heart-implant called a ventricular assist device (VAD)

These are used to keep blood flowing around the heart, when the muscle is no longer capable, before a donor is found.

A product of collaboration between NASA, MicroMed Technology Inc and scientists; the VAD is small, effective and life-saving.

3. Tyres

NASA partnered with a chemical company to make a new material for parachute cords on Mars landers. It was stronger than steel and good at absorbing shocks. Tyre manufacturers developed the material further. It improved the tread life of conventional tyres by more than 100,000 miles.

Britain Formula One - F1 - British Grand Prix 2016 - Silverstone, England - 7/7/16General view of Pirelli tyresAction Images via Reuters / Andrew BoyersLivepicEDITORIAL USE ONLY.
Image: REUTERS

4. Better baby milk

NASA scientists developed an additive from algae containing nutrients found in human milk. The additive is believed to help with mental and visual development. This enriched ingredient can now be found in 90% of commercially available baby formula in the United States.

5. Temper Foam mattresses

Originally developed to improve crash protection, temper foam has since been incorporated into a host of widely used products. It can be found in mattresses and pillows. It’s also used in protective sports equipment, amusement park rides and furniture.

Have you read?

6. Computer technology

From real-time weather visualization and forecasting to high-resolution 3D maps of the Moon and Mars, NASA has always been at the forefront of computer technology advancement. To this day, NASA continues to develop and collaborate on improving software for more widespread use on Earth.

The setting moon is seen in a photograph taken by Expedition 47 Flight Engineer Tim Peake of the European Space Agency (ESA) from the International Space Station on March 28, 2016 and released by NASA on April 4, 2016. Picture taken March 28, 2016.  REUTERS/ESA/NASA/Handout via Reuters   THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Image: REUTERS/ESA/NASA
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