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NASA ICB 1999 Awards

Invention of the Year Awards for 1999

The Government Invention of the Year Award for 1999 was awarded to Method and Apparatus for Ultra-High-Sensitivity, Incremental and Absolute Optical Encoding, from Goddard Space Flight Center.

The 1999 Commercial Invention of the Year went to Product and Process for Preparing Highly Optically Transparent/Colorless Aromatic Polyimide Film; Structures from Low Dilrectric Polyimides, from Langley Research Center.

Software of the Year Awards for 1999

Genoa is a Progressive Failure Analysis Software System developed at the NASA Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Cleveland, OH. Genoa is used to model aging and failure in structural materials, including high-tech alloys and ceramics. It can predict aging and failure of materials, including those used in airplanes, cars, engines and bridges.

Remote Agent, the first artificial intelligence software in history to command a spacecraft, was named co-winner of NASA’s 1999 Software of the Year award. It was developed at NASA’s Ames Research Center. NASA scientists say the Remote Agent artificial intelligence used on NASA’s Deep Space 1 is the precursor for self-aware, self-controlled and self-operated robots, exploring rovers and intelligent machines. 

“The Remote Agent approach to spacecraft autonomy signals the dawn of a new era in space exploration,” said Dr. Pandu Nayak, deputy manager of Remote Agent development the NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA. “Remote Agent will enable new classes of missions and more effective use of existing resources, and it will enable today’s ground operations teams to operate significantly more missions.” Remote Agent and its components are already being considered for a variety of NASA missions, he said. 

Experts from JPL and Ames pooled their expertise to conduct the Remote Agent experiment, designed to push the limits of spacecraft autonomy. Their efforts proved that this sophisticated artificial intelligence software is capable of commanding the spacecraft with “high-level” goals, such as “communicate with the Earth on the agreed-upon schedule” or “fire the main engine as needed to stay on the desired trajectory.”