NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has presented an award of $20,000 to Dr. Robert Nathan of Jet Propulsion Laboratory for significant scientific and technical contributions in the field of imaging.

The NASA Inventions and Contributions Board recommended the award to Dr. Nathan for his "Combined Technical Contributions to Planetary and Biomedical Image Processing and Scientific Data Analysis Techniques."

In the early 1960s, Dr. Nathan recognized the need to improve the quality of pictures produced as result of space exploration by enhancing selected features of the images.

His pioneering work in converting received data from spacecraft cameras allowed the computer to manipulate information and make the images more meaningful.

With new microchip design, he used computers to correct image distortion from television pictures, removed noise and developed system to handle large amounts of data at the Image Processing Laboratory (IPL).

Dr. Nathan's process and the implementation of the IPL established JPL as the world leader in planetary image processing technology.

Using the same technology, Dr. Nathan in the late 1960s made further contributions that established JPL as national resource in biomedical image processing and led to the development of the JPL Biomedical Image Analysis Facility.

In 1976, seeing the need for more advanced technology, he developed techniques to reduce computer time by factor of 100 and established Very Large Integrated Systems (VLSI) use at the IPL, and emerged as leader in VLSI implementation.

The Inventions and Contributions Board noted, in presenting the award, that corporations spend millions of dollars to design and develop custom chips. Dr. Nathan accomplished the same thing on small budget and without today's existing technology, the board said.

The award was made under provisions of Section 306 of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958.

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