Software technology, proven to be invaluable for law enforcement investigations, and a mathematical method received NASA’s Commercial and Government Invention of the Year Awards.
The Video Image Stabilization and Registration System (VISAR) received NASA’s Commercial Invention of the Year. The basis for this innovative technology was created by NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., employees, Dr. David Hathaway, a solar physicist, and Paul Meyer, an atmospheric scientist, to aid their space-program research.
In response to a FBI request for assistance, this video enhancement technology was developed into VISAR. It was first used in 1996 to help the FBI analyze video of the bombing at the Olympic Summer Games in Atlanta. Since then Hathaway and Meyer have worked on more than a dozen criminal cases with police and the FBI.
VISAR works by turning dark, jittery images; captured by home video, security systems and video cameras in police cars, into clearer, stable images that reveal clues about crimes. It does what other image stabilization processes cannot, correct for changes in orientation and size. The system is also being used in the Space Shuttle Columbia Accident Investigation.
The winner of the NASA Government Invention of the Year is a mathematical method called Computer Implemented Empirical Mode Decomposition Method, also known as the Hilbert-Huang Transformation (HHT) Method. Dr. Norden E. Huang, Director, Goddard Institute of Data Analysis at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md, invented it.
The HHT Method has many diverse applications. The Method can be applied in a variety of fields to study things such as: basic nonlinear mechanics, climate cycles, solar neutrinos variations, earthquake engineering, geophysical exploration, submarine design, structural damage detection, satellite data analysis, nonlinear wave evolution, turbulence flow, blood pressure variations and heart arrhythmia.
This Method is also used to analyze sea surface temperature data collected by NASA satellites and instruments. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration uses Huang’s method to analyze images from some of its Earth orbiting spacecraft. It has proven successful in connecting environmental changes to El Nino phenomena with weather changes.
Huang also won NASA’s Exceptional Space Act Award in 1999, for which he was cited, “as having invented one of the most important applied mathematical methods in NASA’s history,” for his invention of the HHT Method.