Two area men who invented a power generator used by robot space exploration vehicles will be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame today.
John Birden and Ken Jordan spent their careers at the Monsanto Mound Laboratory in Miamisburg where their groundbreaking work was conducted.
Birden, who passed away in 2011, and Jordan, who died in 2008, invented the Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator. The self-contained power source obtains its power from radioactive decay. The devices have powered most of the exploration vehicles launched by the U.S. into deep space, where the sun’s intensity is not sufficient to generate electricity with solar cells and steady, reliable power is needed in unmanned situations, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said.
The patent office said the two will join other inductees, including inventors behind the electronic synthesizer, flat panel plasma displays, iris recognition technology, and the code providing the foundation for 3G cellular systems.
This year’s induction ceremony will be at the patent office’s headquarters in Alexandria, Va. The office founded the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1973.
To be chosen, an inventor’s work must be covered by a U.S. patent, and have had a major impact on society, the public welfare, and the progress of science and the useful arts.
“We are honored to recognize these individuals who conceived, patented, and advanced so many of the great technological achievements that have changed our world,” said Teresa Stanek Rea, acting under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and acting director of the patent office.