11.The most impressive soundbite of all time
Neil Armstrong setting foot on the moon on 21 July 1969 was one of the most historically important moments of the 20th century. His proclamation, which was heard by radio audiences around the world – “that’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind” – remains one of the most famous statements ever uttered.
Nasa invented a special coating using a form of diamond-like carbon to protect its astronauts’ helmets from being scratched by space particles. A modified form of this substance – which decreases surface friction and therefore reduces scratching – has since been used by many sunglasses manufacturers, including Ray-Ban, since 1988.
13.First detailed map of another planet
In 1971, the Mariner 9 probe arrived at Mars and beamed a total of 7,329 images of the planet back to Earth. It provided the first global map of the surface of the Red Planet, including detailed views of its system of canyons and volcanoes, Valles Marineris.
14.The potential to preserve priceless art
After being first tested by Nasa, “polyamides” – incredibly strong and heat-resistant polymers – have been researched by the J Paul Getty Trust, which has discovered that one in particular may protect bronze statues from corrosion.
15.Car crash technology
“Explosive” bolts that can be remotely detonated to destroy them were used to free the Space Shuttle from its rocket boosters on blast-off. The technology has been adapted to create quicker and more powerful equipment to cut people out of car crashes. The cutters employ the same pyrotechnic “power cartridges” used on the Shuttle.
16.Longer golf shots
Wilson – one of the world’s biggest golf ball manufacturers – has improved the performance of its golf balls by implementing technology used to test the aerodynamics of the Space Shuttle’s external fuel tanks. These balls have a variety of specially configured dimples, which the company claims makes them travel further than conventional balls.
Ever seen the vertical tip at the end of an airplane wing and wondered what it is? It’s a called a winglet and was originally developed at Nasa’s Langley Research Center. The winglet produces a degree of forward thrust (to help the plane in take-off and flight), operating much like a boat sail, and reduces wingtip drag. The winglet has been in service since the 1970s, and is found on all types of aircraft.
Nasa developed freeze-drying technology for the food carried by the Apollo missions. After the process, the product retains 98 per cent of its nutritional value and weighs just 20 per cent of its original weight. Snacks based on this technology are exported by Nasa to many countries, with sales running to several million pounds a year.
Through Nasa research on algae (which it was hoped could generate oxygen in space through photosynthesis), it was found that certain algae contain two essential fatty acids present in human breast milk. These acids play an key role in infants’ mental and visual development. A synthetic ingredient that contains these acids is now added to baby food in 66 countries.