The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) has announced plans to auction off a number of its advanced software patents at the fifteenth ICAP Ocean Tomo IP Auction in California.

Originally developed for control of satellite systems and other mission specific needs, these patent lots have a number of potential applications in software development, robotics, telecommunications, utilities, smart grids, wireless sensor networks, quantitative finance and cyber security.

Patent lots fall into three categories: automated software generation, autonomic computing architectures and autonomic management of environmental monitoring systems.

The software generation lot includes technologies designed to reduce the time and effort required to create software programs. These technologies can automatically create formal specifications and working code from informal input, and convert source code into a formal mathematical model.

The autonomic computing lot includes a number of technologies that mimic biological functions to help manage large, complicated computer systems. This functionality can be a useful tool for system management, as it ensures that only the components that are actually needed are active.

Finally, the autonomic safety systems lot makes use of one GSFC’s autonomic computing technologies, based on a double-heartbeat “lub dub” signal, to manage and detect faults or failures in alarm networks such as alarms, sprinkler systems and satellites.

NASA Goddard's support contractor Christopher Ahern explained that this is a relatively new approach to licensing for a US government agency, and is only the second time since 2010 that the organisation will be participating in an auction of this kind.

“The auction platform helps NASA to achieve its commitment to disseminate information about technical achievements and to promote the use of NASA-sponsored technology development for uses beyond NASA missions,” said Ahern.

“The successful commercialisation of NASA technologies also creates a greater return on investment for taxpayers and can increase the competitive advantages of organisations in a range of sectors by advancing capabilities or opening up new markets.”

Ahern said that any industry that deals with complex computing environments is likely to benefit from the technologies developed by NASA Goddard. The auction will take place on 29 March.