Remember life before cell phones? Or GPS? Or tablet computers? Kind of hard, isn't it? Air traffic management researchers feel the same way about life before the Future ATM (Air Traffic Management) Concepts Evaluation Tool, or FACET. FACET is a computer program developed by NASA that generates simulations for managing air traffic scenarios. It provides a "big picture" view of what's happening in the skies overhead. For any given moment in time, it can show thousands of aircraft swarming through our national airspace. With each aircraft represented as a tiny icon, a FACET simulation can look like an "ant farm in the sky," with aircraft clustering around major airports like ants targeting a drop of peanut butter. You may have seen video generated from FACET on the morning news during air travel outlook reports. Recently, the creators of this simulation software at NASA's Ames Research Center in California won NASA's 2010 Government Invention of the Year. The award, presented by NASA's Inventions and Contributions Board, is given to inventions that have made a significant contribution to NASA's goals and to broader communities; in this case, the aeronautics community. Nominations are rated on use, creativity, benefits to the community, and overall significance to humankind. More via NASA.
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