before and after views using software
This before/after image shows how the JPL software allows control of distortions to correct aberrations in light. Image credit: NASA/JPL
PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA has selected the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., as one of two winners of the agency's 2007 Software of the Year Award for software to help detect planets outside our solar system.

JPL's software, called Adaptive Modified Gerchberg-Saxton Phase Retrieval, characterizes the optical errors in a telescope system using innovative and robust algorithms. The software may be integrated into a telescope's calibration control loops to correct those errors and markedly improve optical resolution. JPL's software can be applied to other sciences and systems that use light, such as laser communications and extrasolar planet detection.

The other award went to software engineers at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., who developed the Data-Parallel Line Relaxation, or DPLR, which is used to analyze and predict the extreme environments human and robotic spacecraft experience during super high-speed entries into planetary atmospheres.

JPL's software is already used at the California Institute of Technology's Palomar Observatory, in northern San Diego County. The software played a significant role in designing next-generation telescopes such as NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in 2013.

A eight-person team from JPL is responsible for the Adaptive Modified Gerchberg-Saxton Phase Retrieval Software: Scott Basinger, Siddarayappa Bikkannavar, David Cohen, Joseph Green, John Lou, Catherine Ohara, David Redding and Fang Shi.

Early work for the software was based on efforts to correct the vision of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. After initial images came back blurry, engineers worked for months to determine the problem. Eventually, astronauts traveled to the telescope to install a corrective lens based on telescope-imaging errors.

"Several years ago, it took teams of experts months to agree on a correct prescription for a telescope lens," said team member Siddarayappa Bikkannavar. "Our software can do all of that in just a few minutes."

David Redding said he and his team have worked since the mid-1990s to develop the innovative software, and they are gratified to receive recognition for it.

Ames Research Center's DPLR software simulates the intense heating, shear stresses and pressures a spacecraft endures as it travels through atmospheres to land on Earth or other planets. It is capable of creating a highly accurate, simulated entry environment that exceeds the capability of any test facility on Earth, allowing engineers to design and apply thermal protection materials suited to withstand such intense heating environments.

The DPLR team members include Michael J. Wright, James Brown, David Hash, Matt MacLean, Ryan McDaniel, David Saunders, Chun Tang and Kerry Trumble.

The NASA Software of the Year Award was initiated in 1994. Since then, both JPL and Ames have won or have been co-winner of the award seven times, including three out of the past four years.

A NASA Software Advisory Panel reviews entries and recommends winners to NASA's Inventions and Contributions Board for confirmation. Entries are nominated for developing innovative technologies that significantly improve the agency's exploration of space and maximize scientific discovery.

More information about NASA's Inventions and Contributions Board is at: .

More information about JPL is at: More information about NASA is at: .

News Media Contact

Media contacts: Rhea Borja 818-354-0850
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Rachel Prucey 650-604-0643
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Sonja Alexander 202-358-1761
NASA Headquarters, Washington