Invention of the Year Award for 2003
A depressurized cabin on aircraft or any human-tended space vehicle (like Space Station or Shuttle) or planetary habitat (Lunar or Mars Base) presents hazards due to a pressurization system failure, vehicle impact/damage, or errant system configuration. It is not only possible but has all too often actually happened over the years--sometimes with fatal consequences. The Payne Stewart Lear Jet crash in 1999, the Progress/Mir collision in 1997 and Apollo 13 oxygen tank explosion in 1970 are highly visible examples where pressurization systems have impacted the mission and endangered or took the lives of crew members and/or passengers.
Personal Cabin Pressure Altitude Monitor and Warning system was created at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to help warn astronauts of a cabin pressure issue while traveling to space. When a depressurization event happens with the crew unaware, such as in a slow but significant leak, the nature of hypoxia can render the crew helpless in short order. The cognitive and mental ability is affected first, followed by physical incapacitation and then unconsciousness or even death. The premise behind the Cabin Pressure Monitor is to provide a timely warning, to the crewmember(s) while they are still mentally and physically able to take corrective/protective action. It is licensed to Kelly Mfg., the world's largest producer of general aviation instruments, for use in aviation and for other ground applications, such as mountain climbing, precise altitude measurements for use by utilities, etc.
Software of the Year Awards for 2003
NASGRO Fracture Mechanics Analysis Software, developed at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, is the internationally accepted standard code for fracture control analysis of space hardware. The code has important use on the Space Shuttle and the ISS Programs including analysis of payloads and resolution of crack-like anomalies. The current version 4.0, completed in May 2002, was developed through a mutual development agreement between JSC and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI)—manager of the NASGRO Consortium consisting of 14 private companies. NASGRO has been significantly improved over the 1994 NASA/FLAGRO version. Besides the application for space hardware, over 1700 users of NASGRO are identified representing over 600 companies and including space, civil aviation, military and university communities. NASGRO is the standard code for fracture analysis of space hardware, aircraft, rotorcraft, turbine engines and many other pieces of mechanical equipment. Of particular note, NASGRO is receiving significant support from the FAA for development of improved capabilities for damage tolerance analysis of aircraft.
From the start of the Sea-viewing Wide Field of view Sensor (SeaWiFS) Project in 1991 at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, providing rapid and easy data access to the user community has been a primary objective along with ensuring that the data were of the highest possible quality. For NASA to maximize its investment in Earth remote sensing, data not only must be delivered to the user community in a timely manner but, the users must have the tools to work with the data. The SeaWiFS Data Analysis System (SeaDAS) was the answer to providing data display, processing, and analysis support. SeaDAS was designed to identically reproduce all the standard products, including levels 1, 2, and 3 (raw telemetry counts to level 3 global mapped geophysical products), generated by the SeaWiFS Project Office (SPO), while providing users the flexibility of customized processing by adjusting processing parameters or selecting alternative processing methods.
SeaDAS is provided as packaged executable software and source code (for those who wanted to incorporate new capabilities), and also includes on-line help, demonstrations, along with very responsive e-mail and telephone support. Additional requirements were for SeaDAS to run on affordable and commonly used desktop systems, e.g., Silicon Graphics and Sun Microsystems Unix workstations, and have an easy to use graphical user interface (GUI). Later, support was added for PC Linux systems, which greatly expanded the user base, especially overseas. SeaWiFS was successfully launched in 1997 and has since provided continuous Earth observations. SeaDAS was broadly distributed prior to launch and was used by many in the research community to evaluate the initial SeaWiFS data on the first day of operations. Today, SeaDAS is being used at over 500 sites in nearly 50 countries. The SeaDAS official web site is located at: https://seadas.gsfc.nasa.gov.