Friday, August 10, 2012

Curiosity gears up to zap rocks in huge crater at red planet

The six-wheeled mobile laboratory will rely heavily on a ChemCam laser characterization instrument and several other devices it is set to carry on its projected 19-kilometer journey. ChemCam —developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the French space institute (IRAP) — is designed to rapidly analyze rock and soil compositions outside the rover, identifying samples that could be studied further by additional instruments inside the rover. The LANL-built CheMin, for example, will use X-ray diffraction to determine the composition of mineral samples collected and dropped into the rover via a funnel. (Full Story)

LANL science team celebrates Mars landing

LANL Video
Members of the LANL and French Space Institute ChemCam science team celebrated the successful landing of the Curiosity Rover on the surface of Mars and then quickly began working toward the first-ever laser-based interrogation of Mars' geologic composition. Watch LANL's video above.

Rover touches down on Mars

The latest Mars rover, Curiosity, landed safely and successfully on the red planet early Monday morning to delight of hundreds at Los Alamos National Laboratory. About 400 people from Los Alamos gathered at the Bradbury Science Museum to watch NASA television for the historic moment. (Full Story)

Los Alamos scientists celebrate Curiosity touchdown

LANL Video.

Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists were among those gathered in Pasadena, Calif., to cheer as the Curiosity rover landed successfully on Mars on Sunday night. “I can’t describe the feeling when we realized that Curiosity had landed safely on the planet,” said LANL planetary scientist Roger Wiens, principal investigator of the Mars Science Laboratory mission’s ChemCam team, in a news statement. (Full Story)

Curiosity lands safely on Mars

One of the first photos taken by a camera at the front of the rover. Mount Sharp, the mission's ultimate destination, looms ahead. JPL image.

In a show of technological wizardry, the robotic explorer Curiosity blazed through the pink skies of Mars, steering itself to a gentle landing inside a giant crater for the most ambitious dig yet into the red planet’s past. A chorus of cheers and applause echoed through the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Sunday night after the most high-tech interplanetary rover ever built sent a signal to Earth. (Full Story)

Also from the Monitor this week:

Scientists, residents cheer Mars landing

Part of the Curiosity rover exhibit at the Bradbury Science Museum.  LA Monitor Photo.

NASA’s Curiosity rover on Monday transmitted a low-resolution video showing the last 2 1/2 minutes of its white-knuckle dive through the Mars atmosphere, giving Earthlings a sneak peek of a spacecraft landing on another world. As thumbnails of the video flashed on a big screen on Monday, scientists and engineers at the NASA Jet Propulsion let out “oohs” and “aahs.” (Full Story)

Atom bomb historic sites may become national park

CBS crew visits V-Site. LANL Photo.

High in the New Mexico desert stands a small unremarkable building. But, if you had peered through its now cobwebbed keyhole back in 1945, what you would have seen is the device that changed the world.

"The Gadget," as it was euphemistically called, was the first atomic bomb ever tested. Scientists and engineers at the Los Alamos National Lab rolled it out of the remaining barn doors some 67 years ago. (Full Story)

Los Alamos researchers study plants’ response to climate change

Plexiglass chambers controlled for temperature and moisture are used to study impacts of predicted climate change on piƱons and junipers. LANL Photo

For a plant physiologist whose research points to a looming disaster in the world as we know it, Nate G. McDowell is a surprisingly upbeat guy. “I’m excited. This is such an awesome project,” said McDowell, a Los Alamos National Laboratory staff scientist, as he gave a tour of his latest research site near Bandelier National Monument. (Full Story)    

LANL honors lab’s tech transfer standouts
Los Alamos National Laboratory recognized some of its stars on Thursday evening for innovations ranging from bomb-defusing tools to glow-in-the-dark proteins.

LANL honored several scientists and entrepreneurs with five awards at the LANL Tech Transfer outSTANDING innOVATION Awards for research, patents and devices. Since 1998, the laboratory has held an annual patent and licensing awards reception to honor employees who have been issued patents in the past year and received royalty income for patented and copyrighted work they did at LANL. (Full Story)    

Lab sets shipment record
LANL Image

For the fourth consecutive year, Los Alamos National Laboratory’s TRU Waste Program has sent a record number of transuranic waste shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad for permanent disposal. The laboratory’s 172nd shipment of TRU waste this year left Los Alamos bound for WIPP Aug. 2. With two months left in the fiscal year, the laboratory has already beat last year’s fiscal year record of 171 shipments. (Full Story)

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