Friday, March 22, 2013

Mars rover under pressure to reach mountain goal

Roger Wiens. LANL photo.

Seven months after it hurtled to a landing on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover has rolled just 738 metres across the surface. It remains about 10 kilometres from its primary goal: Aeolis Mons, a 5-kilometre-high mountain thought to contain layers formed in ancient ponds.

Since 23 January, the rover has more or less stayed in one place, a region called Yellowknife Bay. Yellowknife “has been a great place to start”, says team member Roger Wiens of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. (Full Story)

Laser instrument aboard Curiosity rover provides well over 40,000 shots so far

ChemCam mast unit being prepared in a clean room prior to the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory. LANL image.

"ChemCam has performed flawlessly in its first six months, providing more than a gigabyte of exciting new information about the Red Planet," said Los Alamos National Laboratory planetary scientist Roger Wiens, Principal Investigator of the ChemCam Team. "Since Curiosity's successful landing on Mars on August 6, 2012, ChemCam has fired more than 40,000 shots at more than a thousand different locations with its high-powered laser." (Full Story)

Los Alamos science sleuth on the trail of a Martian mystery

Nina Lanza.  LANL photo.

The ChemCam laser vaporizes a small amount of material that can be read by a spectrometer to determine the target's composition. Los Alamos National Laboratory postdoctoral researcher Nina Lanza is studying whether Martian rocks are coated with dust or some other substance, and she presented her research at the 44th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference at The Woodlands, Texas. (Full Story)

Culturing technique reveals full genome from single cell

Two GMD containing gut-community microcolonies are shown, with green fluorescence marking the DNA. LANL image.

A new technique for genetic analysis helps scientists generate complete genomes from a single cell, helping to understanding the bacteria, viruses and eukaryotes that form “microbiome” communities.

Scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory and the J. Craig Venter Institute in San Diego have made a breakthrough that gives researchers the bigger picture of the multi-organism genome, using the complete genome from a single cell. (Full Story)

Giant sequoias face looming threat from shifting climate

Giant sequoia. From Yale Climate 360.

In the worst case long-term scenarios, however, the Save the Redwods League projects that most habitat for coastal redwoods would eventually be rendered unsuitable for the big trees. In the near term, however, coastal redwoods may have an environmental advantage over their inland sequoia cousins since fog condensate provides as much as 45 percent of their annual water needs, says Park Williams, a climate and forest researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. (Full Story)

Los Alamos says surveys show normal radiation

Officials at Los Alamos National Laboratory say two recent aerial flyovers show normal radiation levels around the city and county.

Los Alamos Field Office acting manager Juan Griego says the surveys conducted August 2011 and June 2012 in the vicinity of the northern New Mexico nuclear facility found that radioisotopes and their associated exposure rates are consistent with those expected from normal background radiation. (Full Story)

First-Ever Demonstration of Quantum Cryptography to Improve Security of the Electric Grid

The miniature transmitter communicates with a trusted authority to generate random cryptographic keys to encode and decode information. LANL photo.

A Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) team has successfully completed the first-ever demonstration of securing control data for electric grids using quantum cryptography. The demonstration was conducted in the test bed that is part of the OE-funded Trustworthy Cyber Infrastructure for the Power Grid (TCIPG) project at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. (Full Story)

LANL Director Charlie McMillan dines for charity

From left, LANL Director Charlie McMillan, Steve Girrens, Los Alamos Daily Post Publisher Carol A. Clark and TRK Management owner Roger Waterman.

Lunch with the Laboratory director was an auction item at this year's Red and Black Ball that raised nearly $1,000 for the Los Alamos Family YMCA. As a charity, the local YMCA ensures that health and wellness programs are available for all individuals and families despite an inability to pay. (Full Story)

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