NASA Spinoff shows off space tech that helps on Earth

The tech NASA designs for space often has really interesting applications here on Earth too.

Michelle Starr Science editor
Michelle Starr is CNET's science editor, and she hopes to get you as enthralled with the wonders of the universe as she is. When she's not daydreaming about flying through space, she's daydreaming about bats.
Michelle Starr

Over the decades, NASA has designed a bunch of space stuff that has wider terrestrial applications. Like memory foam, Mylar blankets and solar cells. You might be surprised what NASA has developed, which is why every year, it releases an annual publication called Spinoff that profiles 50 of these technologies.

This year's publication, Spinoff 2017, has just landed.

"The stories published in Spinoff represent the end of a technology transfer pipeline that begins when researchers and engineers at NASA develop innovations to meet mission needs," said Stephen Jurczyk of NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington. "This year's spinoffs include products and services at work in every sector of the economy. They are innovations that make people more productive, protect the environment, and much more."

This year's publication includes the laser imaging technology that discovered snow on Mars (now being used by archaeologists); a high-speed, high-res camera designed to monitor the Orion spacecraft's landing parachutes (now being used for vehicle crash testing); and GPS precision upgrades by NASA that now help drive self-driving tractors.

You can read it online or download a PDF version here, and get the NASA Spinoff app for iOS here.