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Over 100 years, NASA's top 5 tech advances

Sharon Gaudin | April 1, 2015
NASA, and its predecessor NACA, helped develop computer chips, satellite communications and safer flight.

NASA scientists studied what kind of clouds and temperatures would create ice on planes, and created deicing fluid and the means to make it seep out of the airplane wings to keep the ice off them.

"But the most successful [advance] was to move hot air from the engines onto the wings to keep them from icing up," added Barry. "The heated surface is the most widely used one now. Without this, the airline industry, as we now know it, probably wouldn't exist. They figured out what caused ice and how to avoid it and how to fly through these icing clouds safely."

Weather satellites
"In terms of impact on humanity, probably weather satellites are another major tech advance," said Barry. "In the old days, weather clobbered us without any warning. Today, we may not know if we're getting two inches or six inches of snow, but we definitely know when a storm is coming."

NASA played a big role in developing weather satellites and still consults on them today.

"The original technology was pushed by NASA and we tested out the technology," added Barry. "The original weather satellites were launched by NASA. The folks at the Goddard Space Flight Center did a lot of the early work on weather satellites."

With all of these five technologies, NASA -- or NACA -- played significant roles in their creation or advancement. "With some of those changes, if NASA hadn't existed, somebody would probably have figure it out eventually, but the speed with which these things have happened is thanks to NASA and NACA."


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