New Space and Tech

NASA Ames Wins Agency Awards for Inventions

By Keith Cowing
April 8, 2013
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NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., has won two agency awards: the 2010 Government Invention of the Year Award and the 2010 Commercial Invention of the Year Award. Ames received the Government Invention Award for developing the Future ATM (Air Traffic Management) Concepts Evaluation Tool, or FACET, software that creates simulations for managing air traffic scenarios.
“As the world’s population grows and air travel demand increases, our airspace will become more crowded,” said Banavar Sridhar, NASA senior scientist for Air Transportation Systems. “FACET helps air traffic management researchers find ways to increase airspace capacity and establish more efficient routes with the least impact on the environment, thereby saving fuel and minimizing emissions.”

Ames won the Commercial Invention Award for developing a powder vibration system used in portable X-ray diffraction (XRD) instruments. Ames research scientist David Blake and former NASA post-doctoral fellow Philippe Sarrazin developed the technology, which was licensed to inXitu Inc. of Campbell, Calif.

“This invention changes the way people work in the field because it allows the scientist to take the instrument to the location of the analytical problem, rather than the opposite,” Blake said. “Because the technology is portable, it has diverse applications in the field, including for geology, detection of counterfeit pharmaceuticals, or analyzing art objects and antiquities.”

The powder vibration system enabled the development of a miniaturized soil and rock analysis instrument that has been accepted for flight on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), NASA’s next landed mission to Mars. MSL is scheduled to launch in November 2011.

Each NASA field center submits nominations for the awards, which are evaluated by NASA’s Inventions and Contributions Board. The board determines which nominations qualify for each category, ranks the nominees and makes recommendations to the NASA Office of the General Counsel for review and approval. Ames previously won the NASA Government Invention of the Year award in 2008 for the invention of a high-speed 3-D laser scanner with real time processing.

For more information about NASA Ames, visit:

For more information about FACET, visit:

For more information about portable XRD technology, visit:

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