U.S. high school students recently won $5,000 at the Spirit of Innovation Challenge hosted by the Conrad Foundation at the NASA Ames Research Center in California from March 29 to March 31. The team’s “Infinity Suit” proposed to make spacesuit undergarments using materials that can absorb heat without changing temperature, according to a recent Innovation News Daily article.
“If you stitch phase-changing crystals into clothing, you could also design phase-changing crystals to only change at a certain temperature,” said Michael Lampert, a physics teacher at West Salem High School and coach of the “Infinity” student team. “You could go on a spacewalk and not have the problem of carrying a liquid-cooled ventilation system.”
Infinity’s idea came from founding member Grace Hannon, a student who was inspired by the thought of making better blankets for hospital patients. She ended up calling Barbara Morgan, a teacher and former U.S. astronaut.
This technology has many advantages over the current Liquid Cooling and Ventilation Garment (LCVG) which uses water as a non-recoverable consumable and once wetted (filled with water), required maintenance every 90 days!
According to an article on Gizmodo.com, engineers in the Human Factors Division of NASA Ames have a patent pending on an ingenious idea that will help astronauts read digital displays during periods of vibration for “five bucks.”
“During the final stages of a launch… the entire vehicle oscillates rapidly. Add that oscillation to the resonant frequency of the large tube that separates the booster and the crew cabin, and you get a crew capsule that vibrates like crazy. When humans are vibrating to that extent, it’s impossible for them to read a digital display. If the astronauts can’t read, they can’t do their jobs. If they can’t do their jobs, no more mission.
“And then the people in the Vibration Lab had a really, really good idea: By simply strobing the display in time with the vibration, they could kill this problem altogether.
“NASA has a patent pending on the technology, although the problems it solves are decidedly not NASA-specific; helicopters, planes, and fast-moving boats have similar vibrational issues, so it’s very possible we’ll see this implemented elsewhere.”
Developed at NASA Ames, the NASA Biocapsule has great potential to help Astronauts on long duration missions, during spacewalks, and even help people back here on the Blue Marble.
Gizmodo has the full story and interview with the inventer, Dr. David Loftus:
“One of the primary threats in space is exposure to high levels of radiation. [The NASA Biocapsule] could be filled with cells that sense the increased levels of radiation and automatically disperse medicine to help the body compensate. We already use a hormone called G-CSF (Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor) to treat cancer patients who are receiving radiation treatment. So it was a very small jump to put these cells in a capsule.
“Different capsules will be created to combat different threats. Heat, exhaustion, and sleep-deprivation are serious risks on an EVA (a “spacewalk”), and astronauts are usually on a very tight schedule. Different capsules can be created that contain unique triggers and treatments for different stress-factors.”
This is just one of many examples how NASA technology is making strides in long duration spaceflight, extravehicular activity (spacewalks), and spinoffs helping people on Earth.