Often, however, these innovations are also useful for life here on earth: Sources of natural omega-3 fatty acid, for example, were originally sought for a Mars mission, but have been used in baby food ever since. We also have NASA research to thank for digital image sensors, precise GPS systems, expanded foam, and filter systems with nanofiltration technology.
Another research project undertaken by the American space agency may not necessarily make our everyday lives much easier, but it makes for a fascinating decorative item that you don’t see every day in the living room: the ecosphere. It is the result of NASA’s search for a self-sustaining ecosystem for long-term stays in space – and for your living room. All the ecosphere needs is light. Tiny green spaces use it for photosynthesis, producing oxygen and providing a basic food resource for shrimps, which in turn feed on algae, keeping the system in balance.
This ecosystem has an average life expectancy of between two and three years – and this mini aquarium also requires no maintenance. Ecospheres are available in either pod or spherical shapes and there is also a giant version measuring one meter in diameter and weighing in at a hefty 650 kilograms. Around 5,000 shrimps populate a volcanic rock sculpture in this version – certainly fascinating, but perhaps a little too unwieldy for us.