How NASA software benefits Earth

We take a look at the services NASA has on offer to support individuals, entrepreneurs, other government agencies, researchers.

Many of NASA’s computational innovations were developed to help explore space, but the public can download them for applications that benefit us right here on Earth. The agency’s latest software catalogue has hundreds of popular programs, as well as more than 180 new ones, all available for free download.

“From operations here on Earth to missions to the Moon and Mars, the software is integral to all that NASA does,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “The good news is this technology is available to the public for free. The software suited for satellites, astronauts, engineers, and scientists as it is applied and adapted across industries and businesses is a testament to the extensive value NASA brings to the United States – and the world.”

NASA programs adapted and used by entrepreneurs, other government agencies, researchers, and others include:

  • TetrUSS: Aircraft emissions contribute significantly to humanity’s carbon footprint. Computational fluid dynamics programs developed at NASA allow engineers to design an aircraft’s shape to minimize drag, allowing for maximal fuel efficiency. The program has enabled users to improve designs for aircraft, automobiles, and boats and gauge architectural aerodynamics and even assist in plane crash investigations. Available in the United States, TetrUSS is one of NASA’s most downloaded applications of all time.
  • WorldWind: The sheer volume of data captured by NASA’s many satellites can make it unwieldy for everyday use. WorldWind visualizes NASA data using a video game-like virtual globe of Earth, allowing users to zoom from satellite altitude down to any point on the planet’s surface. This software helps decision-makers worldwide manage scarce resources. It supports the Coast Guard by generating a map from live feeds of satellite and maritime data. And it helps researchers understand climate impacts on freshwater resources.

“In the race to mitigate the effects of human-made climate change, human-made technology can be a key advantage,” said Technology Transfer Program Executive Dan Lockney. “By making our repository of software widely accessible, NASA helps entrepreneurs, business owners, academia, and other government agencies solve real problems.”

Dozens of other environmental science software programs are also ready for download. Highlights include:

  • tool to calculate a solar power system’s size and power requirements using fuel cells, solar cells, and batteries.
  • Code to analyze solar aircraft concepts by evaluating flight worthiness and providing design feedback.
  • Computational fluid dynamics software that can improve the efficiency of wind turbines for power generation.

Containing more than 800 programs, the NASA software catalogue features categories such as system testing, aeronautics, data and image processing, autonomous systems, and more. The software is also continuously updated in a searchable repository online.

Did you know?

For the ninth consecutive year, the Partnership for Public Service has ranked NASA as the Best Place to Work in the Federal Government among large agencies and, new for 2020, has also ranked NASA No. 1 among large agencies to respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The rankings, announced Tuesday, reflect NASA’s focus and dedication as it pursues missions, including sending humans farther into space than ever before. In 2020, the agency saw its highest employee satisfaction results since this index was developed.

“NASA’s selection as the Best Place to Work in Government for the ninth year in a row is a testament to the dedication and determination of our world-class workforce through the most difficult circumstances our nation has faced in generations,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

The Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings are based on responses to the Office of Personnel Management’s annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey from almost 624,800 employees at 482 federal agencies and offices. The Partnership for Public Service began publishing the rankings in 2003.

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Luke Conrad

Technology & Marketing Enthusiast

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