The technical wizards at NASA Glenn Research Center are being recognized for two space-borne gadgets. Ideastream’s Brian Bull reports…
R & D Magazine is holding its annual awards ceremony in Orlando, Florida this Thursday for what it deems the top 100 innovations of 2012.
Among the honorees is Lee Mason. He and fellow NASA Glenn employee Marc Gibson co-developed KiloPower -- an uranium-based power system for extensive space missions.
The pair worked with a team at Los Alamos National Laboratory on the system. Mason says KiloPower has the potential to really ratchet up power levels for far-flung spacecraft.
"For example, the Pluto New Horizons mission that recently was launched uses about 200 watts of electricity. The system that we’re proposing that would use uranium instead of plutonium fuel, could produce thousands of watts of power," explains Mason.
"So it’s a significant increase which would allow us to put more scientific instruments on board and just do more things once we arrive at our destination.”
The second innovation from Glenn being honored is a re-programmable radio that can operate in space, allowing mission crews to upload new software applications. This can help update other applications or fix problems while in orbit.
To data, NASA Glenn has received more than 100 R & D awards for its technology.