NASA has chosen as its 1999 NASA Software of the Year two innovative programs developed at NASA centers. One program applies technology developed for space to everyday life here on Earth by helping to make our cars, airplanes, bridges and other structures safer. The other program makes spacecraft cheaper and transforms science fiction into science fact by allowing spacecraft to operate themselves.
The award winners are: Genoa, a failure-analysis software with unique predictive capabilities, and Remote Agent, which has been used to control NASA's Deep Space 1 mission.
Genoa simulates and predicts aging and failure in all sorts of structural materials, including high-tech alloys and ceramics used in airplanes, cars, engines and bridges. Genoa was submitted by the NASA Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Cleveland, OH.
The development of Genoa began at the center in the 1970s and was commercialized only about a year ago. A minority-owned small business is now marketing the software, which is used by aircraft manufacturers and others. It is the only software that can predict progressive aging and failure of materials as diverse as metals, ceramics, concrete and all types of composites. The ability to predict material and structural failure helps manufacturers build stronger aircraft fuselages, engines, car bodies, and bridges. This is especially important today as commercial aircraft fleets age and many elements of road and bridge infrastructure reach the end of their useful lives.
The second winner, Remote Agent, is a giant leap in the world of artificial intelligence. It is the first software package ever used to autonomously control a spacecraft: Deep Space 1. NASA scientists gave the software package primary command of the spacecraft for three days in May and it more than met expectations. The software detected, diagnosed and fixed problems, showing that it can make decisions to keep a mission on track.
This capability will reduce the cost of future spacecraft operations as computers become "thinking" partners along with humans. Remote Agent is a precursor to self-aware, self-controlled robots, exploring rovers and intelligent machines that previously have existed only in science fiction. Remote Agent was jointly submitted by NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA.
The NASA award is the largest award for software excellence in the United States. The winners were selected from 50 entries representing more than 150 corporations, universities, and government laboratories.
Last year, NASA awarded over $350,000 in cash prizes to the winners. The event is sponsored by the NASA Inventions and Contributions Board and the NASA Chief Information Officer. NASA officials will officially present the awards at special ceremonies later this year. Information about the winning teams and other finalists is available from:
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