Friday, March 7, 2008

News from Los Alamos National Laboratory for March 3-7

Cassini Finds Possible Rings Around Saturn Moon

Scientists from northern New Mexico's Los Alamos National Laboratory involved in new observations by a spacecraft suggest Saturn's second-largest moon may be surrounded by rings. If confirmed, it would the first time a ring system has been found around a moon. The international Cassini spacecraft detected what appeared to be a large debris disk around the 950-mile-wide moon Rhea during a flyby in 2005. The finding was described in a study in this week's issue of the journal Science. Among the 35 co-authors of the article are space scientists Hazel McAndrews, Robert Tokar and Robert Wilson of Los Alamos. Cassini's instruments also include a pair of ion-mass and ion-beam spectrometers built by Los Alamos. See the story. Read the LANL News Release. And the article in Science Magazine.

Also from the Associated Press:
NNSA plan would center nuke design in Los Alamos

Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories will be leaner in the future as the federal government reduces the nation's nuclear weapons complex. The National Nuclear Security Administration is proposing to consolidate operations from eight nuclear weapons sites around the country to move the Cold War complex into a smaller, more secure and less expensive operation. The eight facilities would get various "centers of excellence." None will close. See the story here.

Los Alamos Launches ‘Complex Transformation’ Website

The Laboratory now has a publicly available website that outlines NNSA’s preferred alternative and what it means for Los Alamos National Laboratory. The site includes a variety of resources including fact sheets, employee messages, and news articles. LANL's complex Transformation Website.

LANL explains transformatio
n plan, mission

Get ready for transformation week: not the moment when everything changes in the nuclear weapons complex, but a critical week when sides line up and offer varying, and sometimes emotional, accounts about what should or should be done in the next decade. Los Alamos National Laboratory hosted the first of two bus tours Wednesday, looking to explain a program of consolidation outlined in a Department of Energy environmental statement - and hopefully gather support. A small group of community leaders were taken behind the fence to four nuclear facilities under discussion in next week's public hearings about transforming the weapon’s complex. See the story here.

Also from the Los Alamos Monitor:
Los Alamos County Council supports LANL

Council decided in a 6-to-0 vote to send a letter to the document manager for the DOE, Theodore A. Wyka. The letter comments specifically on the Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement issued by the National Nuclear Security Administration and the DOE in December. It states that council endorses the preferred alternative for Los Alamos National Laboratory as described in the SPEIS, Sec. S 3.17A. "Los Alamos County hereby expresses its strong support for LANL, whose most significant contributions to the nation lie not in the past but in the future." See the story here.

March Currents now available

This second issue of the new Laboratory employee publication features a cover article highlighting the strong teamwork behind explosives testing at the Lab's firing sites. Also in the March issue are articles on Alexander Balatsky of Condensed Matter and Statistical Physics, who recently left his mark among some of science's greats; the high flying support Bob Kroutil of Biosecurity and Public Health helps provide to emergency first responders; and the latest community leaders survey results, which offer some telling insights into what the Lab's Northern New Mexico neighbors think about their relationships with the Lab. March Currents available here.

LANL NewsBulletin
Workshop helps tea
chers introduce science concepts

Denise Thronas, standing, of PU238 Science and Technology, leads teachers in a tie-dye workshop last Saturday in Pojoaque. The workshop is designed to introduce basic chemistry concepts, which teachers can use in later lesson plans with students. Seated left to right are Ralph Paiz, principal of Tesuque Day School; Trini Solomon a teacher from San Ildefonso Day School; David Kitts and Jessica Arquero, teachers at Cochiti Pueblo Elementary School; and Jack Carson, a teacher at Santa Clara Day School.

Cochiti Elementary School Principal Michael Weinberg solders pieces that will become part of a solar robot during last Saturday's workshop. Teachers learned about basic circuit diagrams, energy conversion and storage, electronic components, aerodynamics, weight and balance. The Tribal Relations team in the Government Affairs Office coordinated the workshop as part of its pueblo education outreach program. Laboratory staff from several technical organizations led the workshops. See the Los Alamos Daily NewsBulletin online.