Innovators of the Year

Innovators of the Year

Accepting the Innovators of the Year award
Zaven and Keith accepting the "Innovators of the Year" award, with Peter Hughes and Christyl Johnson
NICER/SEXTANT/XNAV/XCOM team
NICER/SEXTANT/XNAV/XCOM team

Goddard technologist Keith Gendreau and the NICER/SEXTANT team were named this year's "Innovators of the Year." The Goddard Office of the Chief Technologist bestows the award annually on technologists who exemplify the best in R&D. The selection committee chose Keith and his team because of their advanced thinking and sustained effort developing innovative solutions for navigating in deep space using pulsars, transmitting data via X-rays, and gathering first-of-a-kind measurements to better understand the interior composition of neutron stars.

Their technology-development effort has reaped rewards. The NASA Science Mission Directorate recently awarded the team $250,000 to further advance the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) concept, which would place an X-ray timing instrument on the International Space Station to explore the exotic states of matter within neutron stars and reveal their interior and surface compositions.

The same mission concept, however, also advances technology. With the instrument Keith is developing for NICER, which includes 56 state-of-the-art X-ray telescopes, he hopes to demonstrate pulsar-based navigation and the world's first X-ray communication system in space. The three-in-one instrument truly exemplifies cross-cutting capabilities so important to NASA.

Congratulations to Keith and his team, including Zaven Arzoumanian, Michael Blau, David Fickau, John Gaebler, Monther Hasouneh, Clara Hollenhorst, Lalit Jalota, Patrick Jordan, Steven Kenyon, Sridhar Manthripragada, Alissa Mitchell, Jason Mitchell, Michael Moreau, Nicholas Spartana, and Luke Winternitz.

NASA Logo, National Aeronautics and Space Administration