Ask An Astronaut - How the Space Station Helps Earth

Have you ever wondered what it's like to live and work in space? We certainly did, so we asked NASA Astronaut, Colonel Doug Wheelock, who has spent more than 178 days in space at the International Space Station to tell us about his experience for a series we're calling "Ask An Astronaut." This time, Col. Wheelock tells us how work done on the International Space Station benefits us here on Earth.

We asked NASA Astronaut, Colonel Doug Wheelock how research done at the International Space Station can provide benefits for us here on Earth. Here's what he said.

NASA's history is replete with when you take an innovative idea and you set a spark to it, it becomes revolutionary breakthroughs, sometimes in other areas of science, not even in the area of science that it started in.

One of the examples we have here at NASA is the Hubble Space Telescope.

When we first launched that telescope more than 25 years ago, the images were coming back blurry. But we had people who said, "Well wait a second. All the data are there, you know, when you have a picture, even if it's blurry, all the data are there. So let us have that data. We will build and algorithm and resolve that image."

They put it inside of a black box, flew it up a couple of years later, plugged it into the side of the Hubble and we have all of these beautiful images now.

And so then in the medical field, they came to us and said, "Wait a second. You can take a blurry image and make it crystal clear? I need that for the next generation of MRI machines." And that's exactly what happened. That technology was spun off to the medical field.

That's really our charter at NASA. It's to look for young innovators with just an incredible idea in one area of science, because we know if we nurture that idea and feed that idea and help develop it on the Space Station with some investigation in space, that it could become revolutionary in another field and make life better on Earth.

Our motto is "Off the Earth, for the Earth."

Everything we're doing, all the science we're doing on the Space Station is to return it to the Earth and make life better for humans here on our own planet.