A portable device that can assess heart disease more accurately than a conventional electrocardiogram, a method that may lead scientists to a better understanding of Earth’s origins and help locate precious fuel reserves, and gear that will warn divers, firefighters or combat pilots that their oxygen pressure is low — these are just a few of the innovations that will be recognized by NASA Johnson Space Center May 9.

Two astronauts are among the 25 NASA scientists and engineers who will be acknowledged for developing nine new technologies that will benefit life on Earth as well as in space. News media are invited to attend the 8:30 a.m. breakfast at the JSC Gilruth Center. Interested media should contact the JSC newsroom by 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 8.

Among inventors being honored are astronauts Mark Kelly and Don Pettit. Kelly and Pettit invented an apparatus that monitors air mask oxygen pressure. If the pressure gets too low, the device causes the mask to vibrate, alerting the user. The life-saving device was developed for combat pilots, but could one day be used by firefighters and divers.

Kelly, who is a Navy commander, was a combat pilot during Operation Desert Storm. He flew on STS-108 in December 2001 and on STS-121 in July 2006. He is assigned as Space Shuttle Discovery commander for STS-124, targeted for launch in April 2008.

Petitt spent 161 days in space on the Expedition 6 mission to the International Space Station beginning in November 2002. His most recent mission included a month-long expedition for the Antarctic Search for Meteorites in November 2006.

Other inventors include Justin Wilkinson who developed an automated method for identifying inland deltas from remotely sensed imagery. Wilkinson uses photographs taken by astronauts to search for this new class of landform. Geologists originally thought there were only a few such rivers, but NASA has discovered more than 100. When deeply buried, these river features can be a source for oil, natural gas and water. Wilkinson hopes to expand this research to study Mars topography.

Inventor Dennis Morrison developed an automated system to produce tiny, cancer-fighting ‘balloons’ that are filled with drugs and contrast-imaging liquids or with living cells to transplant. Two medical advantages of these microcapsules are they can be imaged as they are injected into a target prostate or lung tumor and then monitored with ultrasound imaging as they release the drugs inside the tumor. This localized release of drugs inhibits tumor growth without the usual side effects experienced with generalized chemotherapy.

Morrison’s invention was developed as a result of his research on Microencapsulation Electrostatic Processing that flew on STS-95 in 2002 as part of the space station’s Expedition 5 cadre of experiments and from research recovered after the loss of Space Shuttle Columbia and her crew.

The inventors and the 2006 patents to be recognized include:

  • Murray Justin Wilkinson for Method of Identifying Sedimentary Bodies from Images and its Application to Mineral Exploration, issued Jan. 10;
  • G. Dickey Arndt, James R. Carl, Phong H. Ngo, Patrick W. Fink and James D. Siekierski for Sensor and Method for Detecting a Superstrate, issued Feb. 7;
  • William C. Schneider and James P. Locke for Deceleration-Limiting Roadway Barrier, issued Feb. 14;
  • Mark E. Kelly and Donald R. Pettit for Method and Apparatus for Monitoring Oxygen Partial Pressure in Air Masks, issued May 9;
  • Dennis R. Morrison for Microencapsulation System and Method, issued Aug. 22;
  • Todd T. Schlegel, Jude L. DePalma and Saeed Moradi for A Real-time, High Frequency QRS Electrocardiograph, issued Sept. 26;
  • Steve R. Gonda, Yow-Min D. Tsao and Wenshan Lee for Centrifugal Absorption System, issued Oct. 17;
  • Grant Schaffner, Jason R. Bentley, James A. Loehr and Daniel P. Gundo for Exercise Apparatus, issued Oct. 24;
  • Patrick W. Fink, Justin A. Dobbins, Grey Y. Lin, Andrew W. Chu and Robert C. Scully for Deployable Antenna, issued Oct. 24.

For more information on these inventions and the individuals honored at the Inventors’ Breakfast 2007, or on licensing and partnership opportunities, visit the Office of Technology Transfer Web site: