While I may ultimately get more enjoyment from the fruits of those who envision moon colonies and flying cars, I have nothing but the utmost respect for the people in this world who actually invent or improve things. Not all outer space technology is rockets and rovers -- like everyone else in (and outside the orbit of) this world, astronauts need better, more flexible gloves. So much so that NASA has held an annual competition since 2007 to help find the next step in space glove technology.

This year, NASA has awarded first prize ($250,000) to Peter Horner of Maine and runner up ($100,000) to Ted Southern of Brooklyn, NY. Horner's total winnings from NASA are now at $450,000 -- he won the glove competition in its inaugural year (really, wouldn't it be cheaper for NASA just to hire the guy?). Horner edged out Southern in the joint flexibility and pressure tests.

The contestants complete in various tasks with the gloves placed in a pressurized chamber (as pictured above), simulating the demands of an astronaut in space. New to this year's requirements for glove entries: thermal-micrometeoroid-protection layers, of course!

"It is remarkable that two designers working on their own could create gloves that meet the requirements for spaceflight -- a task that normally requires a large team of experts," said NASA engineer Kate Mitchell in a press release covering the event. In case you didn't know (I sure as hell didn't), NASA holds a series of Centennial Challenges each year in categories such as Lunar Landings and Power Beaming for incredibly technically-inclined Americans. So if there are secretly some nerds mixed in with our geek readership, let it be known, there is money to be had for your space-tech skills.