Larry Klaes (
Tue, 22 Jun 1999 13:52:28 -0400

>Resent-Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 10:13:59 -0700 (PDT) >Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 10:12:13 -0700 (PDT) >To: >From: John Bluck <> >Subject: news release - THREE NASA PROJECTS CHOSEN AS "DISCOVER AWARD" > FINALISTS >Resent-From: >X-Mailing-List: <> archive/latest/206 >X-Loop: >Resent-Sender: > >June 22, 1999 >John Bluck >NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA >650/604-5026 or 604-9000 > >99-41 > >THREE NASA PROJECTS CHOSEN AS "DISCOVER AWARD" FINALISTS > > Three NASA projects were among 27 finalists for the 10th annual >Discover Awards held recently at Epcot Center, FL. Finalists were chosen in >each of nine categories from an international field of thousands of >entrants. > >NASA's Deep Space 1 spacecraft's ion engine, managed by the Jet Propulsion >Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, and called the "Revolutionary Rocket," was the >winner in the Exploration category. The Lunar Prospector spacecraft that >discovered water on the Moon, developed by NASA Ames Research Center, >Moffett Field, CA, was a runner-up in that category, and another Ames >project, experimental "smart airplane" software was a finalist in the >Transportation category. > >The smart plane software which can help pilots safely land aircraft that >have suffered major failures was flight tested on a modified F-15 aircraft. >Each sixth of a second, a damaged aircraft's computer can "relearn" to fly >the aircraft using special neural network "controller" software. Without >the smart software, severe problems such as partially destroyed wings, >major fuselage tears or sensor failures can greatly alter how an airplane >handles, and the aircraft might respond oddly or pilots' controls may not >work properly. > >"We were fascinated when we saw each others' inventions during the Awards >events," said Dr. Chuck Jorgensen, a NASA Ames scientist who leads the >smart plane software effort. "I felt very honored when I saw how many >amazing inventions competed." > >In the Exploration category, "To the Moon, Cheaply," the Lunar Prospector >spacecraft project, was runner-up to the Revolutionary Rocket. Lunar >Prospector exemplifies NASA's new way of doing business, having set new >standards in cost containment and schedule for a NASA exploration mission. > >Developed in less than three years at a total cost of $63 million, Lunar >Prospector provided evidence that water ice exists in the permanently >shadowed craters of the lunar polar regions. Prospector also yielded data >that have led to the development of complete gravity maps of the Moon, maps >of location and extent of key minerals and other elements, and evidence >concerning tectonic and volcanic activity. >-more- >-2- > >"I want to add my congratulations to all those who are working tirelessly >to develop new innovations and technologies to meet the needs of people >worldwide in the next century," Vice President Al Gore wrote in a letter to >awards ceremony attendees. "Your work is critical to the success of our >country." > >Jorgensen noted that neural network software being developed in the "smart >plane" project could have a bearing on other aspects of contemporary life. >"Once we prove neural net software can rapidly learn to fly a crippled >aircraft and help pilots land it safely, engineers will be more likely to >use the intelligent neural network software in power plants, automobiles >and other less-complicated systems to avoid potential disasters after >equipment failures," he said. > >The first flight tests of Jorgensen's Intelligent Flight Controller took >place at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA, using early >versions of the new software installed in a modified F-15 jet fighter. The >Boeing Company's Phantom Works division, St. Louis, MO, integrated the NASA >Ames neural network software into the F-15 test aircraft. Jorgensen is the >principal investigator for the four-year Intelligent Flight Controller >Program at Ames. > >"Neural net software learns by observing 'patterns' in the real world and >learning to take new actions in response to different patterns," Jorgensen >said. > > The software gets speed, direction and force data from sensors on >the aircraft. The aircraft's computer compares the pattern of what is >actually happening to the aircraft with a pattern showing how the airplane >should fly. If there is a mismatch, the computer software, which contains >a dozen basic aeronautical equations, or "behavior patterns" that define >how airplanes fly, makes the system work with a "new pattern," if it is >feasible. > >"If sensor data show that a pattern is not being followed, and the airplane >is turning too abruptly, the airplane's neural network can rapidly learn to >assist the pilot. It does this by helping the pilot to use the stick, >flaps, rudders and other control surfaces in ways that may be very >unconventional, but possibly successful," said Jorgensen. >-end- > > To receive Ames press releases via email, send an email with the >word "subscribe" in subject line to: > >To unsubscribe, send an email to: >with "unsubscribe" in subject line. Also, the NASA Ames Public Affairs >Home Page at URL, includes press releases and >JPEG images in AP Leaf Desk format minus embedded captions. > >---- >John Bluck >Information Systems Liaison (Public Affairs) >NASA Ames Office of External Affairs >(voice 650-604-5026) (fax 650-604-3953) >Mail stop 204-12, email: >Moffett Field, CA, USA 94035-1000 >---- > > >

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