Why Pluto/Why Space?

Why did we send a probe past Pluto?  For many people such an endeavor is a waste of time and money that could be spent on more pressing problems here on Earth.  Such honourable sentiments are extended to space programs in general.  I’ve mentioned before the value in space exploration.  Before I launched One Eyed Lemon I’ve mentioned a number of technological and medical advances that have benefitted regular people, like you, on Facebook.  Here is a quick rundown of the top-10 list I posted over the course of ten days:

10) Memory Foam – It keeps your head cradled perfectly, it conforms to your contours in a manner that reduces stresses to areas of your body that would otherwise be in pain. It also absorbs a remarkable amount of energy to passengers during plane crashes, often saving lives. So where did this wonderful technology come from?

It was developed by Charles Yost in the 1960’s and used in the Apollo space program in 1970.

9) Anti Corrosion:

IC 531 zinc silicate is used to permanently prevent corrosion of metals, enabling large structures like bridges to last longer and require less maintenance. Furthermore, this technology is completely non-toxic. where did it come from?

It was developed in the 1970’s at the Goddard Space Flight Center to protect launch structures from deterioration due to corrosion, resulting in dramatically lowering repair costs.

8 ) ArterioVision software:

Using this software resolves images captured from ultrasound and allows physicians to see the signs of a common circulatory disease known as atherosclerosis.

The California Institute of Technology, which manages the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA, developed this technology to provide high resolution images of celestial bodies. Robert Seltzer was the chief researcher of the team that developed it.

7) Cochlear Implants:

Unlike its predecessor, the analog hearing aid, rather than simply amplifying sound the Cochlear Implant produces digital impulses, stimulating the auditory nerves.

Adam Kissiah Jr. used his knowledge from advances in electronic sensing systems, telemetry, and sound sensors, gained from his time at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to develop this technology, now used by hundreds of thousands of people world-wide.

6) Scratch-resistant Eyeglass Lenses:

Back in 1972 was the last time eyeglasses were allowed to be made of glass. Ever since then the lenses were made of plastic. However plastic was much easier to scratch. The coating used was developed by NASA’s Ted Wydeven at the Ames Research Center, while working on water purification systems. The Scratch-resistant coating was first used on the helmet visors of astronauts.

5) Emulsified zero-valent iron:

When injected into groundwater it neutralizes toxic chemicals that pose a threat to the environment. It is so popular that it was the most licensed technology in 2010.

Originally this gem was developed to break down trichloroethylene, “trike”, around space shuttle launchpads. NASA scientists, Jacqueline Quinn and Kathleen Brooks Loftin, won commercial and government invention of the year in 2005.

4) Insulin Pump:

Since the 80’s the insulin pump monitors blood sugar levels and releases insulin into the body as needed. The insulin pump grew out of the the need to monitor astronaut vital signs and the systems the Goddard Space flight Center had developed.

3) Lifeshears:

NASA also helped develop the lifeshears in 1994, a tool that’s used in emergency/rescue operations. It uses a pyrotechnic charge within a cartridge, and is based on the same technology that separates boosters from their rockets during ascent.

2) Charge-coupled Device:

Not only do I want one of these, someday, for my telescope, but they’re also used do scan patients for breast cancer. Not only incredibly accurate it’s also less invasive, unlike biopsy or tissue sample. In 1997 NASA developed a “supersensitive” CCD for the Hubble Space Telescope, increasing the quality and breadth of its images. The LORAD Corporation picked up on the idea and applied it to breast cancer.

1) Water Filters:

Municipalities are starting to use the Microbial Check Valve, a device used where ground water supplies have been contaminated. In partnership with Umpqua Research Company in Oregon, NASA developed water filters in the 1970’s to ensure that astronauts had clean drinking water. Recently NASA began research on recycling human waste into drinkable water. Urine recyc anyone?

From saving/extending lives to renewable solar energy to your smartphone, TV, computer, tablet and every aspect of human life, space exploration has been a major player, without which many of us would have a much lower quality of life.  Why do we send equipment to the planets?  Why 10 years of waiting time to see Pluto up close and personal?  It’s not just because we feel the need to finally understand the last member of our solar planetary family.  It is also to continue existing and improving life for everyone.  It is because we have to.