NASA Centers Honored for Innovations

WASHINGTON /PRNewswire/ -- The 44th Annual R&D 100 Awards recognized four NASA centers for excellence in innovation in research and development. The technologies demonstrated in the worldwide competition are among the most innovative ideas from academia, government, and industry.

The NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, and L-3 Communications Electron Technologies Inc., Torrance, CA, created the L-3 Communications 999HA Traveling-Wave Tube. The tube is a high-power, high-efficiency microwave transmitter that will enable high-data-rate transmissions of science data and video from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and future planetary missions.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, produced a unique gripping mechanism that has the potential to revolutionize robotics by eliminating the need for specialized end effectors and grippers.

End effectors are typically designed for specific tasks and tend to be limited in the range of objects they can accommodate. Goddard's innovative gripper design uses arrays of pins that gently conform to any object's shape then lock into position for an extremely secure, yet gentle hold—even against significant external force or torque. This enables the conformal gripper to grasp and manipulate objects of varying size and shape, securely holding an object's position for repair, machining, or assembly.

Scientists at the NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, in partnership with Messier Dowty, Kent, WA, created a Magnetic Field Response Measurement Acquisition System that eliminates the need for direct contact between sensors and the system being measured. This measurement acquisition system may improve aviation safety. One application example is in fuel tanks, where a wireless sensor would virtually eliminate the possibility of fires and explosions from faulty wires arcing or sparking.

Working with a number of industry and federal agencies, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, helped create "explorer," a long-range, untethered, self-powered robotic system to visually inspect natural gas pipelines. The system prevents air from coming into contact with the natural gas, ensuring a reliable and safe operation.

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