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How did NASA make snow skiing safer?

Winter Sports Image Gallery When you're upside down in freezing cold air with the sun in your face, having the right ski gear is essential to your safety. That's where NASA comes in. See more winter sports pictures.
Adam Pretty/Allsport Concepts/Getty Images

Think NASA, and you're likely to think about Mars rovers, lunar landings and space shuttles. But the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has not only sought to explore the worlds beyond our own atmosphere, it has also developed technologies that benefit our everyday lives here on Earth. From sensors that can detect bioterrorist attacks and robot arms that can perform surgical operations, to car tires that last longer, NASA has touched nearly every sector of science.

Technology transferring from outer space to planet Earth might seem like simple happenstance, but it is, in fact, a very deliberate process.

NASA was established in 1958, and as part of its mandate, congress directed the administration to share its technologies with the private sector. And so, in 1962, the Technology Utilization Program was established and began to disseminate NASA's research findings to industries, universities and the general public. In 1976, Spinoff Magazine was created for this purpose. Since that date, it's published more than 1,700 stories about the adaptation of NASA technologies in a wide range of industries.

Perhaps one of the most surprising arenas in which the space program's technology can be found is in sports -- particularly downhill skiing. On the next few pages, we'll explain how rocketing into space has made rocketing down the slopes safer and more enjoyable.