Friday, August 31, 2012

Los Alamos provides HOPE for radiation belt storm probes

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket blasts off with NASA’s twin Radiation Belt Storm Probes. United Launch Alliance photo.

Los Alamos National Laboratory expertise in radiation detection and shielding is poised to help a nationalteam of scientists better understand a mysterious region that can create hazardous space weather near our home planet.

The Helium Oxygen Proton Electron (HOPE) analyzer is one of a suite of instruments that was successfully launched today as part of the Radiation Belt Storm Probe mission.  (Full Story)

Watch the launch on YouTube

Atlas V launches at the third attempt with RBSP spacecraft

Illustration shows two spacecraft representing the Radiation Belt Storm Probes that will study the sun and its effects on Earth. NASA image.

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) finally launched their Atlas V, carrying a pair of NASA spacecraft – called the Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) – to study the Van Allen radiation belts.

The Los Alamos instrument, The Helium Oxygen Proton Electron, or HOPE, instrument is a mass spectrometer which will study the detection rates of Helium and Oxygen ions, protons and electrons. (Full Story)

Curiosity's laser leaves its mark

Before-and-after images from Curiosity’s ChemCam  micro-imager show holes left by its million-watt laser.  NASA/JPL

Curiosity’s head-mounted ChemCam did a little target practice on August 25, blasting millimeter-sized holes in a soil sample named “Beechey” in order to acquire spectrographic data from the resulting plasma glow.

"ChemCam is designed to look for lighter elements such as carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen, all of which are crucial for life," said Roger Wiens, principal investigator of the ChemCam team. (Full Story)

Curiosity’s first three weeks on Mars

The Martian landscape.  NASA image.

The rover has also been zapping rocks with a powerful instrument called a ChemCam to find out their composition. Los Alamos National Laboratory planetary scientist Roger Wiens, Principal Investigator of the ChemCam Team: “The spectrum we have received back from Curiosity is as good as anything we looked at on Earth. The entire MSL team was very excited about this and we popped a little champagne.” (Full Story)

'Torture Lab' kills trees to learn how to save them

Heath Powers climbs through a maze of wiring at the "tree torture" lab at Los Alamos National Laboratory. NPR photo.

Nate McDowell is simulating drought and a warmer climate. He measures how the trees respond — there are instruments stuck into and all over the trees. Even wrapped around the stem.

"Every few minutes they measure the diameter of that tree," he explains. The trees look like patients in intensive care — wired up with tubes coming out of the stems. (Full Story)

LANL team banking on bioinformation

Joel Berendzen, left, and a team from Los Alamos have developed new genome sequencing software called Sequedex. LANL photo.

Don’t blame your toothache on germs, says Joel Berendzen, who works in the theoretical division at Los Alamos National Laboratory and happens to play chamber music in his spare time.

“Instead, blame yourself for living a lifestyle that allows bacteria to make an honest living doing harmful things,” he said. (Full Story)

Tauscher gains seat on governing boards

Ellen Tauscher.

Tauscher has also been appointed as a member of the LANS/LLNS Boards’ Mission Committee. The Mission Committee serves in an advisory role to review current and future national security issues and laboratory initiatives. (Full Story)

LANL physicist George Kyrala honored with research award

George Kyrala. LANL photo.

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) physicist George Kyrala is part of a team honored with the American Physical Society’s 2012 John Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research. The team, which also includes researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), is being recognized for its work on a far-reaching discovery about laser-matter interaction, which has important implications for LLNL’s National Ignition Facility (NIF). (Full Story)

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