|Ellen Ochoa (1958-)|
Image Credit: NASA
Ever wonder about robotically manufactured products or how a robot is guided during an operation?
While working on her doctorate in electrical engineering, exploring lasers and holograms, Ellen Ochoa co-invented an Optical Analysis System that could detect imperfections in repeating patterns.It allowed seeing an image close up within an image. The invention could be used in processes where consistency in patterns and detecting the slightest deviation were critical.
Patented in 1987, this system is used today in quality control operations, for inspection of equipment, and manufacture of intricate parts, via a robot controlled manufacturing process and robot controlled guidance system. The potential civilian, military and medical use has been endless. For example, in space on Mars, finding the right spot with a video camera for the spacecraft to safely land . . . or in surgery (as below). Two more related Optical Analysis Systems were also patented.
Ellen Ochoa is mostly revered as the first Hispanic female astronaut to enter space; when she flew aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1993. Selected by NASA in 1990, she became the first Hispanic female astronaut in history in 1991. Since then she has flown on four space missions and clocked more than 978 hours in space. Today she is Director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
|Ellen with her crew for the mission STS-110 (NASA)|
Ellen has received numerous awards over the years. NASA awards: Distinguished Service Medal, Exceptional Service Medal, Outstanding Leadership Medal and four Space Flight Medals. Other awards include the Hispanic Engineer Albert Baez Award for Outstanding technical Contribution to Humanity and Time magazine's Scientist of the Year.