How did NASA change the way we clean up messes?

By: Emilie Sennebogen

Astronaut Image Gallery How are an astronaut and a hand-held vacuum related? Their connection to NASA, of course. See more astronaut pictures.

NASA, the space program of the U.S. government, has long been credited with civilian applications of technologies they created for use in outer space. In fact, it's happened so many times that these products have an official name: "NASA spinoffs." These technological breakthroughs may have been intended for use on various space shuttles, rockets and space stations, but many have found good use in the daily lives some very important professions. Advanced artificial limbs, anti-icing systems for aircraft, improved race car tires and fire-resistant equipment and clothing for fire fighters are just a handful of the dozens of technologies that NASA has given the world.

Thanks to the research done at NASA, baby formula is now enriched with fatty acids that are contained in human breast milk, and lasers used in space to detect harmful gases play a part in advanced heart surgeries. But not all of NASA's spinoffs have been for the benefit of surgeons, pilots, fire fighters, amputees, race car drivers or even new mothers. Some of NASA's research has led to advancements in everyday technology that benefit your average Joe or Jane. In fact, chances are that hardly a week goes by that you don't benefit in some way from a technology made possible by the engineers at NASA. There's one invention in particular that's been helping us clean up our homes and businesses since 1979. Click on the next page to find out what it is.