From: JPL/ NASA Timeline: Chronicles of Discovery
INNOVATIONS: IN SPACE AND ON EARTH
- Radar used for the first time to observe another planet when signals are bounced off Venus; a follow-up test reveals surface features as the planet rotates.
- Digital image processing developed for the Mariner and ranger missions leads to many applications in medicine, law enforcement, and other fields.
- Error-correcting codes designed to avoid dropouts in radio communication with Mariner spacecraft eventually find their way in to cell phones and compact discs.
- Technology designed to purify “clean rooms” in which spacecraft are built are adapted for hospital operating rooms and other work environments.
- JPL collaborates with the Department of Energy to develop low-cost solar panels for home energy and other applications.
- 3-D computer animation techniques developed to model the flight of spacecraft lay the groundwork for computer-animated cartoon movies of the 1990s.
- JPL debuts an experimental car powered by a hybrid mix of gasoline and electricity – a precursor of commercial models two decades.
- Infrared technology from the Viking mission to Mars is adapted to create devices that are inserted into the ear to read body temperature.
- A JPL team works with doctors from the Los Angeles Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to develop a tool for cleaning out clogged arteries without surgery, JPL excimer laser technology is evaluated as an alternative to balloon technology.
- A JPL instrument called a spectrometer helps archeologist identify minerals on an ancient Guatemalan funeral mask.
- An imaging system is created for the National Archives to monitor and preserve the original copies of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights.
- Explorers discover the lost city of Ubar, an outpost on the spice route of the Arabian Peninsula, thanks in part to images from radar imagers flown on the space shuttle.
- Shuttle astronaut John Glenn helps test JPL’s Electronic Nose, a device that measures trace vapors in close environments. Applications include environmental monitoring, quality control, food processing, and medical diagnosis.
- An ultrasonic drill is developed that adapts easily to extreme temperatures and can core the hardest rocks. The drill has application in space missions and in medicine.
- JPL establishes a Global Positioning System ground network that provides highly precise location information for use in agriculture, earthquake monitoring, and aviation.
- JPL’s rugged urban robot, known as “Urbie,” is developed as a prototype for military reconnaissance and police, emergency, and rescue personnel.
- JPL scientists create a transparent welding curtain technology that maximizes protection from blue and ultra-violet radiation. They follow this with a superior technology for protective sunglasses for various light environments.
- A tiny image sensor on a chip developed by JPL researchers originally for space imaging application has now become widely available for consumer use, cell phone cameras, digital still and video camera, and personal computer cameras use the image chip, which is easier to manufacture and consumes less power than other images sensors.
- EPOXI is a multiple-use spacecraft. Originally Deep Impact, EPOXI was renavigated to a different comet, Hartley 2. EPOXI also observed extrasolar planets and tested the “Interplanetary Internet” from deep space.
- JPL robot technology was used by a U.S. firm to create two mobile robots that investigated damage at Japan’s devastated Fukushima nuclear power station.