Friday, September 14, 2012

N.M. scientists explore Mars from California

ChemCam Operations Center at JPL. LANL photo.

From the fourth floor of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a group of New Mexicans spends much of each “Mars day” managing what is arguably the most important part of the Curiosity rover.

On a perfectly sunny California day last week, two of those New Mexicans — the University of New Mexico’s Horton Newsom and Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Roger Wiens — showed off their workspace. It’s a windowless room lined with computers and pictures of Mars. For them, what’s important is when the sun is shining on the Red Planet, not on Earth. (Full Story)

Today on Mars: Curiosity is all set to sift sand and bake rocks

This image shows the entrance to the CheMin instrument. NASA

CheMin (for Chemistry and Mineralogy), which will sift Martian dirt so it can be X-rayed. CheMin will identify minerals by examining the diffraction patterns of X-rays that pass through the spaces between atoms.

A battery of tests checking out the Mars rover Curiosity should wrap up today, and she's passing them all with flying colors. Very soon, the rover will start doing what it was sent to Mars to do: Swallowing some soil, baking it and X-raying it, with the goal of finding out whether life could ever have survived on the planet. (Full Story)

New RBSP instrument telemetry provides 'textbook' excitement

The Relativistic Electron Proton Telescope. NASA.

NASA’s Radiation Belt Storm Probe’s Energetic Particle, Composition, and Thermal Plasma Suite (ECT) instruments are controlled from an operations center at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

"Confirm, we're seeing telemetry,” giving ECT principal investigator Harlan Spence of the University of New Hampshire and the ECT team live data of the particles in the belts from two spacecraft, neverbefore gathered within the radiation belts, just three days after launch. (Full Story)

Safer explosives still pack a punch

A unit cell of a cocrystal of HMX (blue), from C&EN

Three new explosives have attractive properties making some of them possible candidates to replace current military explosive favorites, the nitramines RDX and HMX.

Although RDX and HMX are superior to early explosives they are highly toxic and difficult and expensive to make. David E. Chavez, an explosives chemist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, says all three groups’ approaches hold promise to overcome such limitations. (Full Story)

LANL to work on vehicle efficiency

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory will be working on improving vehicle efficiency thanks to a $1.2million grant. The funding was awarded through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Vehicles Technology program.

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan’s office says the program is investing in three new projects that focus on increasing the efficiency of engines and powertrain systems for future vehicles. The research will also be funded by $300,000 in private investment. (Full Story)

LANL Study’s Tree Death Climate Change Connection

Click on the picture to see the LANL YouTube video.

What are the exact physiological mechanisms that lead to tree death during prolonged drought and rising temperatures? These are the questions that scientists are trying to answer in a Los Alamos National Laboratory research project called SUMO.

SUMO stands for SUrvival/MOrtality study; it's a plot of land on the Lab's southern border that features 18 climate controlled tree study chambers and a large drought structure that limits rain and snowfall. (Full Story)

Also from the Daily Post this week:

LANB hosts United Way 2013 campaign kick off

A large crowd filled the lobby of Los Alamos National Bank Wednesday evening for the United Way of Northern New Mexico's annual kick off campaign.

United Way Executive Director Kristy Ortega recognized Debbi Wersonick, Carol Rutten and Linda Anderman of Los Alamos National Laboratory's Community Programs Office. (Full Story)

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