NASA, not just about space

I’ve been seeing this very cool video popup quite often lately. It’s from the fine folks at the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio, and it shows an animated loop of the world’s ocean currents over the span of 2 years!

 

I know I’ve blogged about the underfunding of NASA before, but recently I came across this editorial about why investing in science is always in our best interest. Whenever the topic of science budgets comes up, NASA is often the target of criticism. Why should we be spending money in space when that money could be put to better use here on earth? Well, astronomer Phil Plait reports on how technology developed by NASA is being used to help fight fires. A technology called cool-wall vortex combustion helps to keep rocket fuel tanks cool during liftoff by spinning the fuel in the tank which creates a vortex that keeps the fuel closer to the center of the tank and the walls of the fuel tank cool. This same system can be added to fire-fighting equipment with some astonishing results: during a test run, a single firefighter was able to control a living room fire in 17.3 seconds using 13.6 gallons of water. Using the standard system, the same fire would require multiple firefighters, over 200 gallons of water and nearly 2 minutes to control! When we invest in science, either through NASA, or NOAA, or even the Department of Defense, we collectively benefit, often in ways that we can’t predict.

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