What Surprising Technology Has NASA Developed?

NASA did not give us Tang, Velcro, or the Fisher Space Pen, but they do a tremendous amount that most people never see.

  • The grooves in newer highways used to control drainage and reduce noise were developed by NASA to prevent hydroplaning on runways.
  • The main reason we no longer hear about crashes due to wind shear is the onboard predictive doppler radar developed by NASA to solve the problem. (The other is fixed-site doppler operated near large airports by NOAA and used in conjunction with ATC).
  • The aerodynamic fairings that save long haul truckers 20% on fuel were developed by NASA.
  • The supercritical airfoils developed by NASA improve the efficiency of modern airliners flying at high subsonic speeds.
  • Aircraft winglets, which cut drag, improve lift, and permit larger aircraft on smaller runways, were developed by NASA.
  • Computational Fluid Dynamics—as a practice—was founded and funded by NASA because they needed it for the shuttle. Most modern aircraft would be much more primitive and costly without it.
  • The noise reducing chevrons on modern turbofan jet engines were developed by NASA.
  • NASA found part of the cause of of the runaway engines involved in the Toyota Camry recall.
  • NASA also developed the aircraft lightning protection standards in place today and small aircraft wing design changes that could cut fatalities in those craft by 30% if universally adopted.