Rachel Prucey
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Rick Schindell
Federal Laboratory Consortium, Far West Region, Sequim, Wash.
Sept. 25, 2008
NASA Ames Scores Three Federal Laboratory Consortium Awards
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. – Three teams of NASA Ames computer programmers, heat shield engineers and Earth scientists were honored earlier this month by the Federal Laboratory Consortium Far West Region for developing innovative technologies and partnerships.

The Ames Data Parallel Line Relaxation Code (DPLR) and Ames Lightweight Ceramic Ablator (LCA) teams each won an “Outstanding Technology Development Award,” which is given for developing problem-solving technologies that satisfy markets and consumers. The Western States Fire Mission team won an “Outstanding Partnership” award, which is given for successful partnerships and technologies transfers with federal laboratories.

The DPLR is a software NASA uses to analyze and predict the extreme environments human and robotic spacecraft experience during super high-speed entries into planetary atmospheres. The DPLR simulates the intense heating, shear stresses and pressures a spacecraft endures as it travels through atmospheres to land on Earth or other planets. It is capable of creating a highly accurate, simulated entry environment that exceeds the capability of any test facility on Earth, allowing engineers to design and apply thermal protection materials suited to withstand such intense heating environments.

The Lightweight Ceramic Ablator material (LCA) is slightly more dense than balsa wood and weighs one-fifth as much as conventional heat shields, but can withstand temperatures up to 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, according to project engineers at NASA's Ames. Because of their durability and low-density, NASA officials believe the LCA family of protective materials will play a significant role in protecting spacecraft during fiery re-entries into atmospheres in most future NASA planetary and lunar missions.

The Western States Fire Mission Team is a collaborative partnership between NASA’s Ames, NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and NASA’s Headquarters in Washington, as well as California State University, Monterey Bay, Seaside, Calif.; United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service; National Interagency Fire Center, Boise, Idaho; University of California, Santa Cruz; Bay Area Environmental Research Institute, Sonoma, Calif.; Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management; Federal Aviation Administration; General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., San Diego, Calif.; RedCastle Resources Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah, and Analytical Services and Materials Inc., Hampton Va., to facilitate and demonstrate technologies that increase the information content and timeliness of Earth resource data collected to fight wildfires.

The Western States Fire Mission Team uses the sophisticated Ames-developed Autonomous Modular Scanner (AMS) sensor to detect temperature differences from less than one-half degree to approximately 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The scanner operates like a digital camera with specialized filters to detect light energy at visible, infrared and thermal wavelengths. By placing the AMS aboard unmanned aircraft, it can gather information and imaging for thousands of square miles and provide critical information about the location, size and terrain around fires to commanders in the field in as little as 10 minutes. NASA's Applied Sciences and Airborne Science programs and the Earth Science Technology Office funded development of the AMS fire sensor. In the hands of operational agencies, the benefits of this NASA research and development effort can support nationwide wildfire fighting efforts.

NASA team members and inventors were honored at the Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) Far West Region held Sept. 11, 2008 at the Hyatt Denver Tech Center, Colo. The FLC Far West Region provides one award plaque and hosts a complimentary awards banquet for each award. The Far West Region is comprised of eight U.S. states, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

For more information about NASA's Ames Research Center, visit:

For more information about the Federal Laboratory Consortium, visit:

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