Search & Rescue at Sea
NASA collaborated with other government agencies to provide funding for the development of a miniature personal locator beacon (PLB). The outcome was the NASA-technology-driven MicroPLB satellite-aided tracking transmitter, the brainchild of Microwave Monolithic, a life-saving commercial product used globally by hikers, mountain climbers, and other adventure-seekers. It can emit a distress signal to a constellation of internationally-operated GPS satellites that pinpoint an endangered person’s location anywhere on Earth to within just a few meters. Also, it is the only PLB to use a “safe battery.” Past PLB devices used batteries that have enough volatility to explode with the force of a stick of dynamite.
NASA uses remote-sensing capabilities to acquire detailed information about our planet for a variety of purposes, ranging from increasing agricultural efficiency to protecting homeland security. Sensors fly over areas of interest to detect and record data that sometimes is not visible from the ground with the human eye. Maps created by scientists collecting this data are often used to answer questions about the environment, weather, natural resources, community growth, and natural disasters. The NVision company has harnessed NASA’s wealth of information to provide innovative geospatial solutions for a variety of industries. It has made three rather disparate spinoffs: a crop prescription service for farmers; a disaster management tool for local, state, and Federal governments; and an educational service for young farmers.
Environmentally Safe Ship Cleaning
Taking advantage of NASA’s funding, technology, and lessons learned in developing robotics for space missions, UltraStrip Systems created the M-200 Robotic Paint Stripping System which magnetically attaches itself to the hull of ships and removes paint without producing environment-polluting toxic airborne particles common to traditional grit-blasting methods, and operates with greater speed as well. Its water jets generate 40,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, blasting away paint down to the ships steel substrate. The resulting by-product is water and dried paint chips, both of which are captured by the powerful vacuum system so no toxic residues escape to pollute the environment.
Environmentally Safe Sewage Treatment
NASA’s Dr. B. C. Wolverton, former head of head of the Environmental Research Laboratory at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center (SSC), is widely acclaimed for his innovative work in natural water purification. Wolverton and his SSC group developed a new and advanced technique known as the artificial marsh filtering system that employed the use of aquatic plant systems for removing pollutants from wastewater. When NASA’s technology was used in a Louisiana wastewater treatment facility, it helped the city develop a better and more economical wastewater treatment facility. Now, the systems are in place at several large facilities across the country.
NASA’s orbiting satellites offer a unique vantage point for studying the oceans. By resolving the biological, chemical, and physical conditions in surface waters, they have allowed the oceanographic community to make huge leaps in its understanding of oceanographic processes on regional and global fronts. The study of ocean color in particular has been integral in helping researchers understand the natural and human-induced changes in the global environment and establishing the role of the oceans in the biochemical cycles of elements that influence the climate and the distribution of life on Earth. To further development in this area, NASA contracted with WetLabs to develop the Diving Optical Profiler and High-speed Integration Network (DOLPHIN), a highly-effective new technology for validating ocean color images from satellites.
A product using NASA’s microencapsulating technology is available to consumers and industry enabling them to safely and permanently clean petroleum-based pollutants from the water. The microencapsulated wonder, PRP, or Petroleum Remediation Product that has revolutionized the way oil spills are cleaned. The basic technology behind PRP is thousands of microcapsules-tiny balls of beeswax with hollow centers. Water cannot penetrate the microcapsule’s cell, but oil is absorbed right into the beeswax spheres as they float on the water’s surface. Contaminating chemical compounds that originally come from crude oil such as fuels, motor oils, or petroleum hydrocarbons ? -are caught before they settle, limiting damage to ocean beds.
Dam Corrosion and Bridge Support
To protect rebar from corrosion, NASA developed an electromigration technique that infuses corrosion-inhibiting ions into rebar to prevent rust, corrosion, and separation from the surrounding concrete. Surtreat Holding combined its TPS-II anti-corrosive solution with NASA’s technique to create an effective and environmentally friendly solution. NASA is still using this approach to fight concrete corrosion and has also developed a new technology that will further advance these efforts - a liquid galvanic coating applied to the outer surface of reinforced concrete to protect the embedded rebar from corrosion. The new coating is being used to prevent corrosion of concrete-embedded steel in several applications including highway and bridge infrastructures, dams, piers and docks, concrete balconies and ceilings, parking garages, cooling towers, and pipelines.