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posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday January 30 2018, @05:05PM   Printer-friendly
from the get-it-autographed dept.

NASA tries to justify its existence yet again:

The 2018 edition of NASA's annual Spinoff publication, released Tuesday, features 49 technologies the agency helped create that are used in almost every facet of modern life. These include innovations that help find disaster survivors trapped under rubble, purify air and surfaces to stop the spread of germs, and test new materials for everything from airplanes to athletic shoes.

[...] In Spinoff 2018, you'll learn how:

  • Ultra-sensitive radar technology used to detect gravity fluctuations was repurposed to identify the vital signs of disaster survivors trapped under rubble;
  • A technique developed to preserve plants in a spacecraft led to devices that eliminate bacteria, viruses, molds and volatile organic compounds from air, surfaces and even laundry;
  • One company's work on high-speed stereo photogrammetry for space shuttle analysis now enables low-cost, highly-accurate materials testing to improve designs for everything from running shoes to jetliners.

[...] Other highlights include: artificial intelligence that helps drones avoid collisions and could one day enable self-driving cars; a business jet that is both the fastest and the most efficient in its class; and a computer program that, 50 years after its creation, is still used to design cars, buildings and much more.

[...] The book also features a Spinoffs of Tomorrow section that highlights 20 NASA technologies ripe for commercial application and available for licensing. These include an algae photobioreactor that cleans wastewater while producing biofuels, a revolutionary all-in-one gear and bearing, and the combined technologies of the highly dexterous humanoid robot Robonaut 2.

Spinoff 2018.


Original Submission

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Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 30 2018, @05:15PM (2 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 30 2018, @05:15PM (#630465)

    One company's work on high-speed stereo photogrammetry for space shuttle analysis now enables low-cost, highly-accurate materials testing to improve designs for everything from running shoes to jetliners.

    I don't know that it's a NASA spinoff, but one great application of high-speed photogrammetry was being developed by a company in Vero Beach many years back: real-time scanning during beef processing to quantify surface contamination. Current methods, predictably, involve "eyeballing" the product and cutting away contaminated meat. When the operator's judgement is too conservative you're wasting product, when they're too loose you get field product recalls. With a real-time computer vision system making the call, you can optimize performance, letting just enough e-coli into the final product to maximize yields without triggering costly and embarrassing field recall actions.

    Not sure what became of them, they were part of a little startup incubator which subsequently appeared to flame out, seems like an idea which will be worth pursuing when the price/performance ratio is low enough.

    --
    🌻🌻 [google.com]
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 30 2018, @05:23PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 30 2018, @05:23PM (#630475)

      "As much contamination as we can get away with" is the modus operandi in food production these days. You also have plausible deniability, that the ramifications in some cases like for instance with Roundup can hit many years later and can be hard to prove that it caused a health issue.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 30 2018, @05:43PM

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 30 2018, @05:43PM (#630486)

        As much contamination as we can get away with

        As long as those limits are set to the point where nobody is getting sick, I have no problem with that. Real-world contamination levels will never be zero, and if a person's bacterial food contamination level is zero for an extended period of time, that's a bigger problem in reality.

        I'd much rather have a computer-stored record of what the beef looked like before and while it was processed, instead of a training certificate on file for a contract worker who left the country three days after the suspected incident.

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        🌻🌻 [google.com]
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 30 2018, @05:38PM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 30 2018, @05:38PM (#630483)

    While NASA has done many good things, its kept from being more effective by congressional mandates and micromanaging. NASA is so heavily influenced by politics and Congress, pork barrel, campaign finance and other corruption, its become a somewhat moribund agency. It almost seems to be, the behaviour of Congress on these matters seems to be almost intentional negligence to hamper US space technology, the way they insist on Congressional mandates of extremely problematic and error prone that costs far more than it should, technology like stuff like the shuttle and things that came from it. The shuttle single handedly set US space program back by decades by gobbling up much of the finite resources on something that never worked right, never worked the way advertised and should have been abondoned by the early 80s. We should have trashed the shuttle but only kept it due to sunk cost fallacy and to keep the pork barrel gravy train rolling to contractors. It became very obvious that the cheap rocket. orbiting station model used by the Russians was better, rather than to have a relaunching space station which was the shuttle was. This can also be seen in other branches like the Military with aircraft carriers and so the questionable F-35 when you could make an argument we would be better off with 20 times as many role targeted aircraft rather than the much fewer, highly expensive F-35s. You have a certain amount of money and it may be better to build a larger number of aircraft rather than a smaller number of extremely expensive hardware.

    Maybe things wouldnt be as bad if Congress were to stay out of development and let the scientists at NASA decide what is the best value with public accountability and introspection. NASA seems to have often been hesitant to communicate and share information on what it is doing with the public (rather than only with congress), when it should be an open civilian agencies, in contrast with the military.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 30 2018, @05:49PM (1 child)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 30 2018, @05:49PM (#630494)

      NASA is actually in pretty good shape compared to most military programs:

      https://youtu.be/8J18TjRqnUM [youtu.be]

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHOmkifd2wg [youtube.com]

      --
      🌻🌻 [google.com]
      • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by khallow on Tuesday January 30 2018, @06:30PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 30 2018, @06:30PM (#630513) Journal

        NASA is actually in pretty good shape compared to most military programs

        Not in space, NASA's home ground. DoD (US Department of Defense) spends more and gets more for its money (GPS, recon and communication satellites, etc) and the DoD did more to advance human access to space. The latter deserves some elaboration. The DoD sponsored the Evolutionary Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV), the first program in the history of human space development to encourage competition for orbital launch (here, of US commercial launch providers) which immediately encouraged competition between the two primary launch providers of the time, Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

        Meanwhile what was NASA's contribution? A monopoly on all US payloads from 1975 to roughly 1985 and the establishment of a launch cartel after that. EELV finally did what NASA should have been doing for a generation or two. It's also likely to be the trigger for the formation of SpaceX since Elon Musk would have been encouraged by the creation of a DoD launch market for his rockets (SpaceX has since won several EELV contracts). Orbital ATK is also entering the EELV program with a rocket based on the ATK solid rocket motor as first stage.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Gaaark on Tuesday January 30 2018, @08:21PM (1 child)

      by Gaaark (41) on Tuesday January 30 2018, @08:21PM (#630574) Journal

      NASA needs to be independent to further mankind: intelligent people saying "we can't go to Mars without going back to the moon first!"

      NASA needs to hire me.

      --
      --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 30 2018, @09:19PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 30 2018, @09:19PM (#630613)

        Got it: Gaaark is a pork barrel. NASA need to hire him. (But, he's not even an American?)

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