Friday, September 27, 2013

Water for future Mars astronauts?

Two areas on Mars at “Rocknest” that were scooped out by the Curiosity Rover last year. JPL photo.

Within its first three months on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity Rover saw a surprising diversity of soils and sediments along a half-kilometer route that tell a complex story about the gradual desiccation of the Red Planet.

Perhaps most notable among findings from the ChemCam team is that all of the dust and fine soil contains small amounts of water.

“We made this discovery literally with the very first laser shot on the Red Planet,” said Roger Wiens, leader of the ChemCam instrument team. “Every single time we shot at dust we saw a significant hydrogen peak.” (Full Story)

Fusion, anyone? Not quite yet, but researchers show just how close we’ve come

The National Ignition Facility.  From LLNL.

The dream of igniting a self-sustained fusion reaction with high yields of energy, a feat likened to creating a miniature star on Earth, is getting closer to becoming reality, according the authors of a new review article in the journal Physics of Plasmas.

The project is a multi-institutional effort including partners from the University of Rochester, General Atomics, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratory, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (Full Story)

Event aims to humanize science to lure girls

Ellen Cerreta.  LNAL photo.

Ellen Cerreta, a deputy group leader in the Materials Science and Technology Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory, is among the women in science who will conduct workshops for girls in grades five through eight to help expose them to the possibilities of careers in STEM-C (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and computing).

Citing the presence of the national labs in New Mexico, Cerreta said, “There is a tremendous amount of opportunity… for women in this state if they pursue careers in the STEM fields.” (Full Story)

Sandia Biotech gets global distribution and marketing agreement

Sandia Biotech, Inc. has signed a global distribution agreement with Sigma-Aldrich for its Split Fluorescent Protein product line, which is based on technology licensed from Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Sandia Biotech’s sFP technology, which includes several easy-to-use kits that are available in green, yellow and cyan variations, is utilized in protein and peptide analysis by the pharmaceutical drug development and industrial biotech communities. (Full Story)

Photos: 50 years of space

From left to right, Sam Bame, Dick Belian, Jack Fuller, Norm Blocker and Sid Singer at the Bradbury.  LANL photo.         

Present and former scientists and researchers who worked in LANL’s Vela satellite program commemorate 50 years of Los Alamos National Laboratory treaty verification from space at the Bradbury Science Museum.

In addition to a special Vela-shaped cake, participants enjoyed a presentation by lab associate Morrie Pongratz, who recounted 50 years of contributions to space research and national security programs. (Full Story)

Los Alamos picks three companies for remediation work

Road work at Los Alamos.  LANL photo.          

Los Alamos National Laboratory has selected three businesses for environmental support services work worth up to $400 million over a five-year period.

The businesses were selected based on a technical proficiency and lowest price basis. The companies — Terranear PMC, Navarro Research and Engineering, Inc. and Portage, Inc. — were chosen from 11 prospective bidders, according to a news release issued by the laboratory. Task orders under this agreement will be awarded based on available funding. (Full Story)

LANL reports damage to monitoring stations

Mortandad canyon showing high water levels after storms. LANL photo. 

Los Alamos National Laboratory on Friday reported millions of dollars in damages to environmental monitoring stations around the property, due to recent heavy rain and flooding.

Dave McInroy, the lab’s program director for environmental corrective actions, described last week’s rainfall at the Northern New Mexico as an epic event. (Full Story) raises funds to build a Facebook for scientists

Startup hopes to overhaul how researchers publish papers, making them freely available to all and substituting social-network success for the traditional peer-review process.          

It’s similar to another effort called the LANL Preprint Archive, which launched in 1991 at Los Alamos National Laboratory. That effort grew into Arxiv, which is owned and operated by Cornell University. (Full Story)

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Friday, September 6, 2013


3-D Earth model pinpoints earthquakes, nuclear blasts

A new 3D model of the Earth will now let scientists pinpoint the sources of earthquakes and explosions around the globe more accurately than ever, researchers say.

The new model of the Earth's mantle and crust from Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory is called Sandia-Los Alamos 3D, or SALSA3D. The aim of the model is to more accurately locate all types of explosions, including nuclear ones, for the U.S. Air Force and the international Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) in Vienna. (full story)

A reprint of this story also was posted this week in Yahoo! News

Supercomputers: Extreme Computing at the National Labs

Sometimes big science requires big resources. Over the next month, we'll be highlighting one of those big resources -- supercomputers -- on

The Energy Department's National Labs have incredible computational resources, including 32 of the 500 fastest supercomputers in the world. Several of these computers operate at the petascale, or in excess of one quadrillion floating point operations per second. The supercomputers at the National Labs are used to explore everything from the effects of global climate change to astrophysics and quantum mechanics. (full story)

Several Key Discoveries During Van Allen Probes First Year

NASA’s twin Van Allen Probes entered their second year of service Friday having already provided a wealth of new information about the layers of energetic charged particles located above our planet.

According to Geoff Reeves, a radiation belt scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and first author on a research paper  discussing the topic, the agency has “real evidence that the changes originate from within the belts themselves.” (full story)

This story also appeared this week in PhysOrg

New Evidence to Aid Search for Charge 'Stripes' in Superconductors

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have identified a series of clues that particular arrangements of electrical charges known as "stripes" may play a role in superconductivity-the ability of some materials to carry electric current with no energy loss. But uncovering the detailed relationship between these stripe patterns and the appearance or disappearance of superconductivity is extremely difficult, particularly because the stripes that may accompany superconductivity are very likely moving, or fluctuating.

The scientists ground up crystals of the test material into a fine powder and placed samples of it in line with a beam of neutrons at the Los Alamos Neutron Scattering Center at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Similar to the way light reflecting off an object enters your eyes to create an image, the neutron beams diffracted by the crystals' atoms yield information about the positions of the atoms. The scientists used that information to infer the material's electronic structure, and repeated the experiment at gradually warmer temperatures. (full story)
Magnetic charge crystals imaged in artificial spin ice

A team of scientists, led by University of Illinois physicist Peter Schiffer, has reported direct visualisation of magnetic charge crystallisation in an artificial spin ice material, a first in the study of a relatively new class of frustrated artificial magnetic materials-by-design known as "Artificial Spin Ice." These charges are analogues to electrical charges with possible applications in magnetic memories and devices.

Los Alamos National Laboratory staff scientist Cristiano Nisoli explained, "The emergence of magnetic monopoles in spin ice systems is a particular case of what physicists call fractionalisation, or deconfinement of quasi-particles that together are seen as comprising the fundamental unit of the system, in this case the north and south poles of a nanomagnet. We have seen how arranging magnets in a honeycomb configuration allows for these charges to be sort of ‘stripped’ from the magnetic islands to which they belong and become relevant degrees of freedom." (full story)

New Insights on Wildfire Smoke Could Improve Climate Change Models

Where there's wildfire, there's smoke--a lot of it. And those vast, carbon-laden clouds released by burning biomass can play a significant role in climate change.

The research was funded by Michigan Tech startup funds, a Michigan Tech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, the National Science Foundation (award number AGS-1028998) and the US Department of Energy (award number DE-SC0006941), with additional support from the Los Alamos National Laboratory and NASA. (full story)

NMSU Research Rally to celebrate award of $5 million for algae research project

Las Cruces, NM (KDBC) — New Mexico State University will honor Peter Lammers, of the Energy Research Laboratory. Lammers and the NMSU Algal Bioenergy Program team have recently received a grant of $5 million from the Department of Energy for a two-and-a-half year research project, "Realization of Algae Potential.

Lammers will lead a team of partners in this research effort, including researchers at the Los Alamos, Argonne and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, Washington State University, Michigan State University, and four companies: Phycal, Algenol Biofuels, Pan Pacific Technologies, and UOP-Honeywell. The project involves researchers from New Mexico State's departments of Chemical (Shuguang Deng) and Civil (Nagamany Nirmalakhandan) Engineering, Fishery and Wildlife Sciences (Wiebke Boeing), Plant and Environmental Sciences (Omar Holguin), the Molecular Biology Program (Wayne VanVoorhies) and the Bio-Security and Food Safety Laboratory (Tanner Schaub). (full story)

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