NASA calculated that you only need 40 digits of Pi to calculate the circumference of the observable universe, to the accuracy of 1 hydrogen atom.
2. NASA once raided a Denny's as part of a sting operation to bust a 75-year-old woman named Joann Davis for possessing and attempting to sell a moon rock the size of a rice grain.
3. There’s a hidden joke behind NASA’s Juno mission. While Jupiter's moons are named after the god’s many mistresses, Juno, the space probe sent to orbit and monitor Jupiter, is named after his wife.
4. In 1984, NASA crashed a fully fueled Boeing passenger jet, with crash dummies as passengers and pilots into the Mojave Desert. The crash was filmed from multiple angles at high speed in 16MM film. The knowledge gained from this test led to major changes in airline flight safety standards.
5. According to NASA researchers, an optimal nap will last between 20-30 minutes and a perfect nap will last exactly 26 minutes.
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In the 50's NASA recruited Deaf people to research why they didn't get motion sickness. Tests included flights in 'Vomit Comet' and sailing in the rough seas (researchers got violently sick, while Deaf people just played cards happily).
7. In 1999, NASA lost a $125 million Mars orbiter because half the project staff used imperial measurements, and the other half used metric.
8. When NASA's New Horizons spacecraft passed by Pluto, the trip took about 1 minute less than predicted or in a decade-long journey, i.e., NASA's forecast was 99.99998% accurate. That’s the equivalent of forecasting a trip from New York to Boston and being accurate to within four-millionths of a second.
9. On December 16, 1965, NASA received a transmission from two astronauts: “We have an object, probably in polar orbit... I see a command Module and … and eight smaller modules in front. The pilot of the command module is wearing a red suit.” They transmission then started playing, “Jingle Bells.” The astronauts had just played a Christmas prank on ground control.
10. Right before launching the two Voyagers, NASA scientists used kitchen-grade aluminum foil to cover critical parts of the probes to protect it from unanticipated radiation at Jupiter. It worked.
In the late 80s, NASA studied house plants as a means of providing cleaner and purer air for their space stations. They found Peace Lilies and Chrysanthemums to be the best all-rounders at air filtering.
12. NASA makes a movie poster every time they send an expedition to the international space station. Some of the themes are The Matrix, Star Wars, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
13. NASA recovered metal from the World Trade Center and used it on Martian rovers as a tribute to those fallen on the 9/11 attacks.
14. There is a group in NASA that is legitimately researching warp drive technology called The Eagleworks Advanced Propulsion Laboratory whose purpose is to explore advanced and theoretical propulsion technologies that are intended to allow human exploration of the Galaxy within 100 years.
15. NASA gave away hundreds of trees that have been to the moon. They never kept track of who they gave them to. Now they are trying to find them. One was at the White House.
16Einstein's theory of gravity
NASA's 50-year project to research gravity and prove Einstein's theory of gravity was nearly abandoned after its research probe's instruments were off. It was saved by the donations of Turki Al Saud, a Saudi Prince who holds a Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics.
17. In the early 1990s, NASA sent jellyfish to space to test how spaceflight would affect their development. The jellies did not develop the proper gravity-sensing capabilities and had trouble figuring how to swim around in normal gravity, with abnormal pulsing and movement when returned to Earth.
18. In 2013, NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover hummed Happy Birthday to itself by vibrating its sample-analysis unit to obtain the musical tune, but did so only on its first “birthday.”
19. On NASA's Gemini XII flight, the computer docking system failed and Buzz Aldrin successfully calculated the docking trajectory using a sextant and a slide rule.
20. In 1996, NASA generated electricity with a satellite on a 13-mile long wire, released from Space Shuttle. The wire was clearly visible from Earth and was one of the biggest human-made objects in space.
21Falcon 9 booster
In 2011, NASA estimated that it would have cost the agency about US$4 billion to develop a rocket-like SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster using their traditional contracting processes. SpaceX's total development cost for the Falcon 9 rocket was estimated at approximately US$390 million.
22. NASA as a practical joke played Hello Dolly to wake the Gemini 6 crew in 1965. The astronauts loved it and a tradition was born. Until 2011, families were allowed to choose a favorite song to wake up their loved ones in space.
23. In a 2005 NASA study, scientists successfully revived bacteria that had been in a frozen pond in Alaska for 32,000 years. The microbes had been frozen since when woolly mammoths still roamed the Earth. Once the ice melted, they began swimming around, unaffected, and quickly became infectious.
24. NASA firefighters use military armored personnel carriers during every space shuttle launch in case they need to rescue astronauts at the launch site.
25. NASA has won two Emmy Awards for Interactive Programming. NASA was awarded for its coverage of Mars InSight in 2018, and for its coverage of the SpaceX Demonstration Mission-1 in 2019.