Sustainability

Five Out of This World Tech Advancements

Overview Space has offered us unique opportunities to conduct research and develop innovative solutions in ways that cannot be achieved on earth. Aboard the International Space Station, breakthrough ideas are coming to life.

The International Space Station (ISS) has supported and played a critical role in numerous technology and scientific breakthroughs throughout the past couple decades. These initiatives and inventions have allowed us to not only advance the exploration and advancement in space, but also improve life on Earth.

Explore five tech and science breakthroughs from the ISS lab.


Combatting Muscle Atrophy and Bone Loss

The microgravity environment of space has allowed researchers to better understand bone and muscle loss in both astronauts and people on Earth. Many Americans experience bone loss resulting from diseases or the changed effects of gravity from being bed-ridden. One study aboard the ISS tested whether bone cells levitating in a high-field superconducting magnet matched cells from low-Earth orbit. The data allowed scientists to determine the molecular changes in cells and subsequently test drugs and implantable devices that could combat muscle and bone loss.


Growing Food in Microgravity

New tech solutions for watering, lighting and growing plants aboard the ISS could be the future of long-term missions and life on Mars.

Because everything tends to float in space, including plant roots, water and soil, tech solutions such as Veggie’s plant pillows can help package the necessary components allow plants to flourish despite the lack of gravity.

These initiatives could reduce the number of resupply missions needed for traditional packaged foods, which would also degrade over time.


Printing in 3D

The first 3D printer was sent to the space station in 2014. Researchers were able to test printing using recycled materials and even using specialized printers to print human tissue and organs in microgravity.

The success of the 3D printer in space could help astronauts on missions to not have to rely on Earth, and also reduce garbage by using recyclables to create needed items.


Purifying Water Systems

The Water Recovery System on board the ISS purifies and filters the station’s water, recycling 93% of the water used in space. The technology is being adapted to help water treatment systems on Earth.

Other technology on the ISS can treat water obtained from moisture collected from the space station cabin atmosphere.

Underserved communities around the world could greatly benefit from this technology, gaining access to advanced water purification that could be lifesaving.


Improving Health on Earth

From developing medicines to advancing research on critical diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancer, researchers in space have made headway in improving treatments for those here on Earth.

Without the effect of gravity, cells grown on the space station develop better than those on Earth and can help test cancer treatments and help researchers understand neurodegenerative diseases.

As we continue to explore the great unknowns of space, one thing we know for sure is the ISS continues to be a place where innovation thrives. Despite the distance, the station continues to make discoveries that directly improve the lives of those here on earth.

You May Also Be Interested In ...

Three Tech Lessons for Sustainability and Resilience from COVID-19

Read more arrow-black

The Coronavirus Pandemic Marks a Turning Point for Smart Cities and Enterprise Tech

Read more arrow-black
CTATECH-PROD1