Astronomy Fun Fact #99
Astronomy is often viewed as an unnecessary science because people think astronomy research doesn't directly affect people's lives. Astronomers don't develop medicines, unravel the mysteries of brain function, or make faster technology for everyday use. At least we don't do it on purpose.
In the past, there's been a lot of crossover between astronomy and different industries. Technology or methods developed for or by astronomers have been adopted by other fields to benefit humans.
Below is a list of three cool things that were made possible by or discovered during the pursuit of astronomy research.
1. Global Positioning System (GPS): GPS works by bouncing signals off of satellites in low-Earth orbit. That certainly wouldn't be possible without astronomy
2. Digital Photography: The device in your phone that takes pictures without film is called a charge coupled device (CCD) and it was first developed for telescopes
3. Medical cleanrooms: The protocols that hospitals use to keep environments sterile and clear of dust were originally developed to keep telescope mirrors clean
If you want to read more about these, the International Astronomical Union published a list of ways astronomy tools have been co-opted by other industries. You can read it here: https://www.iau.org/public/themes/astronomy_in_everyday_life/