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02-073
For Release: October 10, 2002

Katherine K. Martin
Media Relations Office
216/433-2406
katherine.martin@grc.nasa.gov

Lori J. Rachul
Media Relations Office
216/433-8806
lori.j.rachul@grc.nasa.gov


Three Diverse Contributions Recognized Under Space Act

Enabling speedy and efficient exploration of space as well as diagnosing problems in the human body are the areas of technology advancements at NASA's Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, that have received an exceptional NASA Space Act Award this year.

Glenn employees recognized for their outstanding scientific or technical contributions are Bruce Banks for Hydroformed Ion Optics and Spall-Resistant Woven Screen Surfaces for Ion Thrusters; Rafat R. Ansari for Non-Invasive Fiber-Optic Probe for Early Detection of Eye and Bodily Diseases; and the Microgravity Analysis Software System (MASS) Team.

Four different patents that comprise the Ion Optics technologies enabled the Deep Space 1 mission and were also used on 18 commercial communication spacecraft. "This technology," says Bruce Banks, chief of Glenn's Electro-Physics Branch, "allows high performance thruster operation and prevents the formation of large flakes of metal from internal thruster parts that would inhibit long life operation of the thrusters."

The second technology recognized is a noninvasive diagnostic tool that uses the human eye as a "window to the body" to detect illnesses in the entire body. According to Rafat Ansari, Microgravity Fluid Physics Branch, "The device can be used to detect early changes in the eye associated with infection, allergic reactions, autoimmune diseases, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy."

A team effort at Glenn led to the development of the MASS software, which assures accurate and timely measurement of vibrations on the International Space Station. This acceleration data is vital to performing microgravity research on the station. Now accelerometer data can be reviewed to provide a clear mental picture of the microgravity research environment, possible threats, and how the environment is changing. This advancement merited a runner-up in the Software of the Year Award Competition. The team members included Glenn employees Kevin McPherson and Ted Wright as well as Ken Hrovat, Eric Kelly, Gene Liberman, Nissim Lugasy, and Tim Reckart, all of ZIN Technologies, Cleveland.

All three awards included an appropriate monetary award and a certificate signed by the NASA Administrator.

The Space Act Awards program was authorized under the Space Act of 1958 to provide official recognition and to grant equitable monetary awards for those inventions and other scientific and technical contributions that have helped to achieve NASA's aeronautical and space goals. The awards are also designed to stimulate and encourage the creation and reporting of similar contributions in the future.

The fiscal year 2002 award amount of $144,500 for Glenn is proportionately divided among the four areas of awards, which are for software release, publication in NASA TechBriefs, Patent applications, and Board Action Awards.

More information on NASA's Space Act Award Program is available at:

http://icb.nasa.gov

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